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J Radiol Prot. 2012 Mar;32(1):N51-4. doi: 10.1088/0952-4746/32/1/N51. Epub 2012 Mar 6.

Radiation and cancer risk in atomic-bomb survivors.

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Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF), 5-2 Hijiyama Park, Minamiku, Hiroshima 732-0815, Japan.


With the aim of accurately assessing the effects of radiation exposure in the Japanese atomic-bomb survivors, the Radiation Effects Research Foundation has, over several decades, conducted studies of the Life Span Study (LSS) cohort, comprising 93 000 atomic-bomb survivors and 27 000 controls. Solid cancer: the recent report on solid cancer incidence found that at age 70 years following exposure at age 30 years, solid cancer rates increase by about 35%  Gy(-1) for men and 58% Gy(-1) for women. Age-at-exposure is an important risk modifier. In the case of lung cancer, cigarette smoking has been found to be an important risk modifier. Radiation has similar effects on first-primary and second-primary cancer risks. Finally, radiation-associated increases in cancer rates appear to persist throughout life. Leukaemia: the recent report on leukaemia mortality suggests that radiation effects on leukaemia mortality persisted for more than 50 years. Moreover, significant dose-response for myelodysplastic syndrome was observed in Nagasaki LSS members even 40-60 years after radiation exposure. Future perspective: given the continuing solid cancer increase in the survivor population, the LSS will likely continue to provide important new information on radiation exposure and solid cancer risks for another 15-20 years, especially for those exposed at a young age.

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