A study published in The Lancet reports strong evidence of positive associations between protracted low-dose radiation exposure and leukemia.
Evidence before this study:
Ionising radiation causes leukaemia. The primary quantitative basis for radiation protection standards comes from studies of populations exposed to acute, high doses of ionising radiation. Although previous studies of nuclear workers addressed leukaemia radiogenicity, questions remain about the size of the risk from protracted radiation exposure in occupational settings.
Added value of this study:
We report a positive dose–response relationship between cumulative, external, protracted, low-dose exposure to ionising radiation, and subsequent death caused by leukeamia (excluding chronic lymphocytic leukaemia). The risk coefficient per unit dose was consistent with those derived from analyses of other populations exposed to higher radiation doses and dose rates.
Implications of all the available evidence:
The present study provides strong evidence of a positive association between radiation exposure and leukaemia even for low-dose exposure. This finding shows the importance of adherence to the basic principles of radiation protection—to optimise protection to reduce exposures as much as reasonably achievable and—in the case of patient exposure—to justify that the exposure does more good than harm.
Summary Background: There is much uncertainty about the risks of leukaemia and lymphoma after repeated or protracted lowdose radiation exposure typical of occupational, environmental, and diagnostic medical settings. We quantifi ed associations between protracted low-dose radiation exposures and leukaemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma mortality among radiation-monitored adults employed in France, the UK, and the USA.
Methods: We assembled a cohort of 308 297 radiation-monitored workers employed for at least 1 year by the Atomic Energy Commission, AREVA Nuclear Cycle, or the National Electricity Company in France, the Departments of Energy and Defence in the USA, and nuclear industry employers included in the National Registry for Radiation Workers in the UK. The cohort was followed up for a total of 8·22 million personyears. We ascertained deaths caused by leukaemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. We used Poisson regression to quantify associations between estimated red bone marrow absorbed dose and leukaemia and lymphoma mortality.
Findings: Doses were accrued at very low rates (mean 1·1 mGy per year, SD 2·6). The excess relative risk of leukaemia mortality (excluding chronic lymphocytic leukaemia) was 2·96 per Gy (90% CI 1·17–5·21; lagged 2 years), most notably because of an association between radiation.
Click here to read the complete article "Ionising radiation and risk of death from leukaemia andlymphoma in radiation-monitored workers (INWORKS):an international cohort study." Published online June 22, 2015
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Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman 1.973.696.7900 firstname.lastname@example.org have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.