Nuclear power plants and childhood leukaemia: lessons from the past and future directions

Kuehni, Claudia E.; Spycher, Ben D. (2014). Nuclear power plants and childhood leukaemia: lessons from the past and future directions. Swiss medical weekly, 144, w13912. EMH Schweizerischer Ärzteverlag 10.4414/smw.2014.13912

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In the 1980s, leukaemia clusters were discovered around nuclear fuel reprocessing plants in Sellafield and Dounreay in the United Kingdom. This raised public concern about the risk of childhood leukaemia near nuclear power plants (NPPs). Since then, the topic has been well-studied, but methodological limitations make results difficult to interpret. Our review aims to: (1.) summarise current evidence on the relationship between NPPs and risk of childhood leukaemia, with a focus on the Swiss CANUPIS (Childhood cancer and nuclear power plants in Switzerland) study; (2.) discuss the limitations of previous research; and (3.) suggest directions for future research. There are various reasons that previous studies produced inconclusive results. These include: inadequate study designs and limited statistical power due to the low prevalence of exposure (living near a NPP) and outcome (leukaemia); lack of accurate exposure estimates; limited knowledge of the aetiology of childhood leukaemia, particularly of vulnerable time windows and latent periods; use of residential location at time of diagnosis only and lack of data on address histories; and inability to adjust for potential confounders. We conclude that risk of childhood leukaemia around NPPs should continue to be monitored and that study designs should be improved and standardised. Data should be pooled internationally to increase the statistical power. More research needs to be done on other putative risk factors for childhood cancer such as low-dose ionizing radiation, exposure to certain chemicals and exposure to infections. Studies should be designed to allow examining multiple exposures.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Review Article)

Division/Institute:

04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM)

UniBE Contributor:

Kühni, Claudia and Spycher, Ben

Subjects:

600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 360 Social problems & social services

ISSN:

1424-7860

Publisher:

EMH Schweizerischer Ärzteverlag

Language:

English

Submitter:

Doris Kopp Heim

Date Deposited:

06 Oct 2014 11:51

Last Modified:

25 Mar 2015 15:54

Publisher DOI:

10.4414/smw.2014.13912

PubMed ID:

24706339

Uncontrolled Keywords:

childhood, cancer, leukaemia, ionising radiation, muclear power plants, cancer registry

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.50692

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/50692

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