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Health Phys. 2014 Feb;106(2):281-93. doi: 10.1097/HP.0000000000000009.

Impact on the Japanese atomic bomb survivors of radiation received from the bombs.

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*Department of Statistics, Radiation Effects Research Foundation, 5-2 Hijiyama Park, Minami-ku, Hiroshima 732-0815, Japan.


The Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF) studies various cohorts of Japanese atomic bomb survivors, the largest being the Life Span Study (LSS), which includes 93,741 persons who were in Hiroshima or Nagasaki at the times of the bombings; there are also cohorts of persons who were exposed in utero and survivors' children. This presentation attempts to summarize the total impact of the radiation from the bombs on the survivors from both an individual perspective (both age-specific and integrated lifetime risk, along with a measure of life expectancy that describes how the risk affects the individual given age at exposure) and a group perspective (estimated numbers of excess occurrences in the cohort), including both early and late effects. As survivors' doses ranged well into the acutely lethal range at closer distances, some of them experienced acute signs and symptoms of radiation exposure in addition to being at risk of late effects. Although cancer has always been a primary concern among late effects, estimated numbers of excess cancers and hematopoietic malignancies in the LSS are a small fraction of the total due to the highly skewed dose distribution, with most survivors receiving small doses. For example, in the latest report on cancer incidence, 853 of 17,448 incident solid cancers were estimated to be attributable to radiation from the bombs. RERF research indicates that risk of radiation-associated cancer varies among sites and that some benign tumors such as uterine myoma are also associated with radiation. Noncancer late effects appear to be in excess in proportion to radiation dose but with an excess relative risk about one-third that of solid cancer and a correspondingly small overall fraction of cases attributable to radiation. Specific risks were found for some subcategories, particularly circulatory disease, including stroke and precedent conditions such as hypertension. Radiation-related cataract in the atomic bomb survivors is well known, with evidence in recent years of risk at lower dose levels than previously appreciated. In addition to somatic effects, survivors experienced psychosocial effects such as uncertainty, social stigma, or rejection, and other social pressures. Developmental deficits associated with in utero exposure, notably cognitive impairment, have also been described. Interaction of radiation with other risk factors has been demonstrated in relation to both cancer and noncancer diseases. Current research interests include whether radiation increases risk of diabetes or conditions of the eye apart from cataract, and there continues to be keen interest as to whether there are heritable effects in survivors' children, despite negative findings to date. Introduction of Impact on the Japanese Atomic- Bomb Survivors (Video 1:52,

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