The Carcinogenic Effects of Low Level Radiation. A Re-Appraisal of Epidemiologists Methods and Observations

Health Physics (Impact Factor: 1.27). 03/1973; 24(2):223-40. DOI: 10.1097/00004032-197302000-00002
Source: PubMed


The Oxford survey and related studies of leukemia mortality have shown that it is unusual to be X-rayed within 6 months of conception, but not uncommon for a spontaneous cancer to be initiated during the first half of fetal life and to wind up as a stillbirth, a neonatal death or a fatal infection. These missed cases tend to be associated with early initiations, and with cancers which run an exceptionally acute course without tumor formation, so they have affected the recognition of leukemias more than other cancers, myeloid leukemias more than lymphatic ones, and spontaneous cancers more than radiogenic ones. The unrecognized cases are also associated with difficult births and difficult living conditions so they have affected X-rayed fetuses more than other fetuses, negroes more than caucasians, and A-bomb survivors more than other populations. A concentration of unrecognized cancers in the youngest age groups, and in populations with a high all-causes death rate, explains why studies of the delayed effects of prenatal irradiation which have allowed the children to be followed for less than 5 yr are not on a par with studies of cancer deaths before 10 yr of age, and why A-bomb survivors are in a class by themselves. The mistaken diagnoses do not account for the "extra" X-rayed cases in the Oxford survey. The age distributions and cell types of these cases suggest that they are a direct consequence of radiation-induced mutations, and may be the only numerically important group of childhood cancers to be caused by an external agent. (C)1973Health Physics Society

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