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JAMA. 1990 Aug 1;264(5):601-4.

Cancer risk among atomic bomb survivors. The RERF Life Span Study. Radiation Effects Research Foundation.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology, Radiation Effects Research Foundation, Hiroshima, Japan.


This article summarizes the risk of cancer among the survivors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We focus primarily on the risk of death from cancer among individuals in the Life Span Study sample of the Radiation Effects Research Foundation from 1950 through 1985 based on recently revised dosimetry procedures. We report the risk of cancer other than leukemia among the atomic bomb survivors. We note that the number of excess deaths of radiation-induced malignant tumors other than leukemia increases with age. Survivors who were exposed in the first or second decade of life have just entered the cancer-prone age and have so far exhibited a high relative risk in association with radiation dose. Whether the elevated risk will continue or will fall with time is not yet clear, although some evidence suggests that the risk may be declining. It is important to continue long-term follow-up of this cohort to document the changes with time since exposure and to provide direct rather than projected risks over the lifetime of an exposed individual.

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