(1) Exposure to Radiation Causes Birth Defects or Abnormal Sex Ratios http://j.mp/Dangerous_Nuclear
(2) Infant Cancer Rates near Nuclear Power Plants http://j.mp/Infants_vs_NPPs
Now, let's go back to female thyroid cancer. The study I am citing here is two years old. But I think the results could explain the peculiar increase in thyroid cancer incidents in South Korea. According to the study:
In South Korea,
“Thyroid cancer incidence in women in the exposed and Control-1 was as high as 2.5 and 1.8 times, respectively, than in Control-2 cohort. And the trend in risk was statistically significant (p for trend = 0.03).” (Ahn et al., 2012)
a. Exposed: the group living within a 5 km radius from the Nuclear Power Plants
b. Control-1: the inter-mediate proximity (5-30 km radius) group
c. Control-2: the far-distance (more than 30 km) group
It is NOT 2.5% or 1.8%, BUT 2.5 times and 1.8 times! If a woman is living within a 5 km radius from a nuclear power plant, she has 150% more possibility of getting thyroid cancer.
Thyroid cancer incidence among Korean females are definitely a serious concern. Let's see Table 1. Although the annual percentage change of overall cancer incidence was 5.4% over 1999-2011, that of thyroid cancer was unbelievably high 23.3%. If we are aware of the above study, researchers must find one of main causes of high thyroid cancer increase rate from the female patients' proximity to nuclear power plants.
Table 1. Trends in cancer incidence rates in females from 1999 to 2011 in Korea
Unit: Age-standardized incidence rate per 100,000
|Brain and CNS||2.6||2.5||2.5||2.4||2.5||2.6||2.8||2.7||2.9||2.7||2.6||2.7||2.4||0.3%|
|Colon and rectum||16.4||16.4||17.9||18.8||20.5||21.5||23.0||24.1||24.5||25.1||26.3||26.0||26.4||4.5%|
|Lip, oral cavity, and pharynx||1.6||2.4||1.7||1.7||1.7||1.9||1.9||1.8||1.9||1.9||1.8||2.2||2.1||1.2%|
|Other and ill-defined||11.8||11.5||11.8||11.5||12.8||13.1||13.9||14.1||14.8||14.9||14.8||15.5||15.7||3.0%|
APC = annual percentage change (age-standardized)
CNS = central nervous system
According to an IAEA data, South Korea has the most number of nuclear reactors per unit land area (Table 2). Korean people have more chance of finding themselves living near a nuclear power plants than any other country in the world. South Korea might urgently need a comprehensive re-examination of the relationship between people's proximity to nuclear power plants and other kinds of cancer.
Maybe some people will ask a question,
"Why Belgium, the No. 2 country in terms of the reactor density per area in the world (Table 2), showed a decreasing cancer mortality rates in the figure below?"
I don't know. However, at least as for thyroid cancer, the country must be worried. In a recent study (Bollaerts et al., 2014), Belgian people living in the vicinity (20 km radius) of 3 nuclear sites (out of total 5 sites studied) have shown to have 15-47% more chance of getting thyroid cancer than the people living outside the radius. If the study has taken accounted for sex-specific incidence rates, female thyroid cancer rates might have been higher, I suspect.
Table 2. Reactors in operation, in long term shutdown, or under construction (as of December 31, 2013)
in operation or
long term shutdown
|Total||Land area||Reactors per|
|No. of units||N. of units||N. of units||km2||No. of units/|
|United Arab Emirates||0||2||2||83,600||0.0239|
a. nuclear reactors: International Atomic Energy Agency (2014)
b. land area: The World Bank (2014)
Ahn, Y.-O. et al. (2012). Cancer Risk in Adult Residents near Nuclear Power Plants in Korea - A Cohort Study of 1992-2010. Journal of Korean Medical Science, 27(9), 999-1008. [Full-text at http://dx.doi.org/10.3346/jkms.2012.27.9.999]
Bollaerts, K. et al. (2014). Thyroid cancer incidence in the vicinity of nuclear sites in Belgium, 2000–2008. Thyroid, 24(5), 906-917. [Full-text at http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/thy.2013.0227]
International Atomic Energy Agency. (2014). Nuclear Power Reactors in the World: 2014 Edition. Vienna, Austria: International Atomic Energy Agency. [Full-text at http://j.mp/NPRs_2014]
Jung, K.-W. et al. (2014). Cancer Statistics in Korea: Incidence, Mortality, Survival, and Prevalence in 2011. Cancer Research and Treatment, 46(2), 109-123. [Full-text at http://dx.doi.org/10.4143/crt.2014.46.2.109]
OECD. (2013). Health at a Glance 2013: OECD Indicators. Paris, France: OECD Publishing. [Full-text at http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/health_glance-2013-en]
The World Bank. (2014). World Development Indicators 2014. Washington, DC: The World Bank. [Data at http://j.mp/WDI_Data]