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J Epidemiol. 1996 Aug;6(3 Suppl):S95-105.

A long-term cohort study of the atomic-bomb survivors.

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Department of Clinical Studies, Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF), Hiroshima, Japan.


The Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC), the predecessor of the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF), was established in 1947 to conduct long-term, comprehensive epidemiological and genetic studies of the atomic-bomb (A-bomb) survivors. Today this study still depends upon the voluntary cooperation of several tens of thousands of survivors of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. An in-depth follow-up study of mortality in the study population of 120,000 persons, including A-bomb survivors and controls, has continued since 1950. The study of tumor incidence was initiated through record linkage with a tumor registry system in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1958. In the same year, biennial medical examinations of 20,000 individuals began. Follow-up studies also have been conducted on in-utero-exposed persons and first-generation offspring of the survivors. On the basis of these studies spanning nearly half a century, we know that the occurrence of leukemia and cancers associated with A-bomb radiation is higher than among the non-exposed. Among the A-bomb survivors, radiation cataracts, hyperparathyroidism, delayed growth and development, and chromosomal aberrations also occur more often. However, to date no evidence exists of genetic effects in the children of A-bomb survivors. It should be kept in mind that such study results could never be obtained without the cooperation of A-bomb survivors.

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