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Cancer in the offspring of radiation workers: an investigation of employment timing and a reanalysis using updated dose information

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Colin Muirhead


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An earlier case-control study found no evidence of paternal preconceptional irradiation (PPI) as a cause of childhood leukaemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (LNHL). Although fathers of children with LNHL were more likely to have been radiation workers, the risk was most marked in those with doses below the level of detection. The timing of paternal employment as a radiation worker has now been examined. The previously reported elevated risk of LNHL in the children of male radiation workers was limited to those whose fathers were still radiation workers at conception or whose employment also continued until diagnosis. Children whose fathers stopped radiation work prior to their conception were found to have no excess risk of LNHL. It was not possible to distinguish between the risks associated with paternal radiation work at conception and at the time of diagnosis. A reanalysis of the original study hypothesis incorporating updated dosimetric information gave similar results to those obtained previously. In particular, the risks of LNHL did not show an association with radiation doses received by the father before conception. It seems likely that the increased risk of LNHL among the children of male radiation workers is associated with an increased exposure to some infective agent consequent on high levels of population mixing.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Sorahan T, Haylock RGE, Muirhead CR, Bunch KJ, Kinlen LJ, Little MP, Draper GJ, Kendall GM, Lancashire RJ, English MA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Journal of Cancer

Year: 2003

Volume: 89

Issue: 7

Pages: 1215-1220

ISSN (print): 0007-0920

ISSN (electronic): 1532-1827

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6601273


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