Thyroid Cancer Rates and 131 I Doses from Nevada Atmospheric Nuclear Bomb Tests: An Update

Radiation Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-7238, USA.
Radiation Research (Impact Factor: 2.91). 05/2010; 173(5):659-64. DOI: 10.1667/RR2057.1
Source: PubMed


Exposure to radioactive iodine ((131)I) from atmospheric nuclear tests conducted in Nevada in the 1950s may have increased thyroid cancer risks. To investigate the long-term effects of this exposure, we analyzed data on thyroid cancer incidence (18,545 cases) from eight Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) tumor registries for the period 1973-2004. Excess relative risks (ERR) per gray (Gy) for exposure received before age 15 were estimated by relating age-, birth year-, sex- and county-specific thyroid cancer rates to estimates of cumulative dose to the thyroid that take age into account. The estimated ERR per Gy for dose received before 1 year of age was 1.8 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.5-3.2]. There was no evidence that this estimate declined with follow-up time or that risk increased with dose received at ages 1-15. These results confirm earlier findings based on less extensive data for the period 1973-1994. The lack of a dose response for those exposed at ages 1-15 is inconsistent with studies of children exposed to external radiation or (131)I from the Chernobyl accident, and results need to be interpreted in light of limitations and biases inherent in ecological studies, including the error in doses and case ascertainment resulting from migration. Nevertheless, the study adds support for an increased risk of thyroid cancer due to fallout, although the data are inadequate to quantify it.

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