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Am J Hum Genet. 1990 Jun;46(6):1041-52.

Malignant tumors during the first 2 decades of life in the offspring of atomic bomb survivors.

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  • 1Radiation Effects Research Foundation, Hiroshima.


The risk of cancer (incidence) prior to age 20 years has been determined for children born to atomic bomb survivors and to a suitable comparison group. Tumor ascertainment was through death certificates and the tumor registries maintained in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The rationale for the study stemmed from the evidence that a significant proportion of such childhood tumors as retinoblastoma and Wilms tumor arise on the basis of a mutant gene inherited from one parent plus a second somatic cell mutation involving the allele of this gene. Gonadal radiation doses were calculated by the recently established DS86 system, supplemented by an ad hoc system for those children for one or both of whose parents a DS86 dose could not be computed but for whom an ad hoc dose could be developed on the basis of the available information. The total data set consisted of (1) a cohort of 31,150 live-born children one or both of whose parents received greater than 0.01 Sv of radiation at the time of the atomic bombings (average conjoint gonad exposure 0.43 Sv) and (2) two suitable comparison groups totaling 41,066 children. Altogether, 43 malignant tumors were ascertained in the children of exposed parents, and 49 malignant tumors were ascertained in the two control groups. A multiple linear regression analysis revealed no increase in malignancy in the children of exposed parents. However, examination of the data suggested that only 3.0-5.0% of the tumors of childhood that were observed in the comparison groups are associated with an inherited genetic predisposition that would be expected to exhibit an altered frequency if the parental mutation rate were increased. There is thus far no confirmation of the positive findings that Nomura found in a mouse system.

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