[ RadSafe ] Thyroid cancer after Chernobyl and radiation-phobia-related harm today
BScott at lrri.org
Thu Mar 17 13:08:39 CDT 2011
Below is a news release from the NIH related to thyroid cancer in
Chernobyl accident victims. Because of the interest in possible thyroid
and other cancers among the Japanese population related to the current
radiological situation and radiation doses (perhaps on the order of
microgray to milligray levels) to the general public, please note that
the dose units in the article below are Grays implicating large
radiation doses to the thyroid for the Chernobyl victims that developed
thyroid cancer. You may also find the Ann Coulter article (not a typo)
at the following link to be somewhat of a surprise in that the author
sees through the fog of misinformation being continually propagated
related claimed significant harm to humans from low-dose radiation
(e.g., < 100 mSv).
Even today because of news media having so-called experts comment on a
regular basis that no amount of radiation is safe, residents on the west
cost of the United States are now concerned about developing cancers
from wind-transported radioisotopes from Japan. Many have purchased
potassium iodide tablets, which will likely provide no benefit and can
cause harm (a real risk unlike hypothetical LNT-based risks from
low-dose radiation). Interestingly, some of the side effects of
potassium iodide are identical to prodromal symptoms from high-level
radiation exposure (nausea, vomiting, fatigue, black tarry stools).
Thus, a person receiving a tiny harmless radiation dose and taking
potassium iodide could be misdiagnosed as having been exposed to a
lethal radiation dose due to the potassium iodide side effects. My
guess is that the daily dose of radiation received by a U.S. citizen on
the west coast from fallout from the reactors in Japan would be
significantly less than that from the thousands of beta particle
emissions that take place each day in everyone from natural radiation
sources. Another real risk was revealed following the Chernobyl
accident, namely radiation-phobia-related aborting of wanted pregnancies
among persons exposed to small harmless radiation doses. This risk
appears to be relevant to the current situation in Japan.
Bobby R. Scott, Ph.D.
Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute
2425 Ridgecrest Drive SE
Albuquerque, NM 87108 USA
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH NIH News
National Cancer Institute (NCI) <http://www.nci.nih.gov
EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: Thursday, March 17, 2011, 12:01 am EDT
CONTACT: NCI Office of Media Relations, 301-496-6641,
<e-mail:ncipressofficers at mail.nih.gov>
HIGHER CANCER RISK CONTINUES AFTER CHERNOBYL
NIH study finds that thyroid cancer risk for those who were children and
adolescents when they were exposed to fallout has not yet begun to
Nearly 25 years after the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant
in Ukraine, exposure to radioactive iodine-131(I-131, a radioactive
isotope) from fallout may be responsible for thyroid cancers that are
still occurring among people who lived in the Chernobyl area and were
children or adolescents at the time of the accident, researchers say.
An international team of researchers led by the National Cancer
Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health found a clear
dose-response relationship, in which higher absorption of radiation from
I-131 led to an increased risk for thyroid cancer that has not seemed to
diminish over time.
The study, which represents the first prospective examination of thyroid
cancer risk in relation to the I-131 doses received by Chernobyl-area
children and adolescents, appeared March 17, 2011, in the journal
Environmental Health Perspectives.
"This study is different from previous Chernobyl efforts in a number of
important ways. First, we based radiation doses from I-131 on
measurements of radioactivity in each individual's thyroid within two
months of the accident," explained study author Alina Brenner, M.D.,
Ph.D., from NCI's Radiation Epidemiology Branch. "Second, we identified
thyroid cancers using standardized examination methods. Everyone in the
cohort was screened, irrespective of dose."
The study included over 12,500 participants who were under 18 years of
age at the time of the Chernobyl accident on April 26, 1986, and lived
in one of three Ukrainian oblasts, or provinces, near the accident site:
Chernigov, Zhytomyr, and Kiev. Thyroid radioactivity levels were
measured for each participant within two months of the accident, and
were used to estimate each individual's I-131 dose. The participants
were screened for thyroid cancer up to four times over 10 years, with
the first screening occurring 12 to 14 years after the accident.
Standard screenings included feeling for growths in the thyroid glands
and an ultrasonographic examination (a procedure that uses sound waves
to image the thyroid gland within the body), and an independent clinical
examination and thyroid exam by an endocrinologist. Participants were
asked to complete a series of questionnaires including items
specifically relevant to thyroid dose estimation. These items included
residential history, milk consumption, and whether they were given
preventive doses of non-radioactive iodine in the two months following
the accident, to help lessen the amount of radioactive iodine that would
be absorbed by the thyroid. Participants with a suspected thyroid
cancer were referred for a biopsy to collect potentially cancerous cells
for microscopic examination. If warranted, participants were also
referred for surgery. In total, 65 of the study participants were
diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
Researchers calculated cancer risk in relation to how much energy from
I-131was absorbed by each person's thyroid, measured in grays. A gray
is the International System of Units measure of absorbed radiation.
Each additional gray was associated with a twofold increase in
radiation-related thyroid cancer risk.
The researchers found no evidence, during the study time period, to
indicate that the increased cancer risk to those who lived in the area
at the time of the accident is decreasing over time.
However, a separate, previous analysis of atomic bomb survivors and
medically irradiated individuals found cancer risk began to decline
about 30 years after exposure, but was still elevated 40 years later.
The researchers believe that continued follow-up of the participants in
the current study will be necessary to determine when an eventual
decline in risk is likely to occur.
For more information about the NCI's research related to the Chernobyl
Accident, please visit: <http://chernobyl.cancer.gov
For more information about radioactive I-131 from fallout, please visit:
For more information about measure radiation dose, please visit:
For more information about NCI's Division of Cancer Epidemiology and
Genetics, please visit: <http://dceg.cancer.gov
NCI leads the National Cancer Program and the NIH effort to dramatically
reduce the burden of cancer and improve the lives of cancer patients and
their families, through research into prevention and cancer biology, the
development of new interventions, and the training and mentoring of new
researchers. For more information about cancer, please visit the NCI Web
site at <www.cancer.gov> or call NCI's Cancer Information Service at
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) -- The Nation's Medical Research
Agency -- includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal
agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational
medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures
for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and
its programs, visit <www.nih.gov>.
REFERENCE: Brenner AV, Tronko MD, Hatch M, Bogdanova TI, Oliynik VA,
Lubin JH, Zablotska LB, Tereschenko VP, McConnell RJ, Zamotaeva GA,
O'Kane P, Bouville AC, Chaykovskaya LV, Greenebaum E, Paster IP, Shpak
VM, Ron E. I-131 Dose-Response for Incident Thyroid Cancers in Ukraine
Related to the Chernobyl Accident. Mar 17, 2011, EHP, Vol. 119.
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