Increased Risk of Leukemia:Nuclear Workers UK

Slightly Increased Risk of Leukaemia Seen in Nuclear Weapons Test Personnel

By Patricia Reaney

LONDON Feb 24, 2003 (Reuters) - British veterans of nuclear weapons tests in the Pacific Ocean 50 years ago are no more likely to develop cancer overall than other men, but scientists said on Monday they may have an increased risk of leukaemia.

As reported in the new issue of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, researchers from Britain's National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) compared cancer rates and deaths of 20,000 men who took part in nuclear tests and a similar number who served in sub-tropical areas but did not go to tests sites.

"We found that the overall rates of cancer and mortality in general were fairly similar amongst those who took part in the tests and those who didn't," Dr. Colin Muirhead, of the NRPB, said in an interview.

"But there is still some suggestion there may be a raised risk of leukaemia, other than chronic lymphatic leukaemia (CLL), among the people who took part in the tests," he added.

CLL is not thought to be induced by radiation.

Dr. Muirhead and his colleagues followed up the two groups from 1952-1998 to determine the impact of their exposure on the development of cancer. They said their findings are in line with results from earlier British and American research.

Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2003;60:165-172.

Thanks to Reuters Health and

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