[ RadSafe ] HPA News - Mortality and Cancer Risks for Radiation Workers

Andrew McEwan acmcewan at clear.net.nz
Tue Jan 20 22:03:19 CST 2009

The study described below is presented as providing the best estimates to
date of any epidemiological study of risks at low dose rates up to cumulated
doses over working life of about 0.5 Sv. The derived risk coefficients are
estimated from linear trend lines which are fitted on the basis of the a
priori assumption of a linear relation between risk (of carcinogenesis) and
dose, i.e. LNT. There is a considerable body of research which suggests that
for low doses and dose rates the LNT hypothesis may not be applicable, and
this raises the question as to whether the authors of the paper should have
examined other relationships between risk (ERR) and dose. If the constraint
of having the ERR trend line against dose having to pass through an ERR of 1
at zero dose is removed, the figures showing mortality from all malignant
neoplasms in the paper seem to indicate there is unlikely to be any
statistically significant trend with dose for cumulated doses up to about
200 mSv.

Andrew McEwan

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HPS New release

Mortality and Cancer Risks for Radiation Workers

7 January 2009

The risk of developing cancer among radiation workers increases with the
dose of ionising radiation they are exposed to, according to a study by the
Health Protection Agency published today in the British Journal of Cancer *.
The observed cancer risks are consistent with the international scientific
consensus on radiation protection.

231252394302> &HPAwebStandard/HPAweb_C/1231252392462?p=1231252394302

The study also shows that overall mortality in the UK's 175,000 radiation
workers is lower than that in the general population. This "healthy worker
effect" has been observed in studies of many other occupational groups.

Dr Colin Muirhead from the Health Protection Agency said: "This is a
continuation of a study started in 1976 and it provides reliable information
on the health of people working with ionising radiation. The results confirm
the cancer risk estimates observed in other studies even though, overall,
radiation workers have lower cancer risks than the general population."

This study provides the most precise estimates to date of mortality and
cancer risks following occupational radiation exposure and strengthens the
scientific evidence for raised risks from these exposures.  The cancer risk
estimates are consistent with international radiation protection standards,
both for leukaemia and for all other cancers combined.

Continued follow-up of these workers will be valuable in determining whether
radiation-associated risks vary over time or by age, and enables the study
of specific cancers and causes of death in more detail.  The research will
also make a useful contribution to wider national and international studies
on the effects of occupational exposures to ionising radiation.

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