Risk of death among children of atomic bomb survivors after 62 years of follow-up: a cohort study via Lancet Oncology


BACKGROUND:No clear epidemiological hereditary effects of radiation exposure in human beings have been reported. However, no previous studies have investigated mortality into middle age in a population whose parents were exposed to substantial amounts of radiation before conception. We assessed mortality in children of the atomic bomb survivors after 62 years of follow-up.
In this prospective cohort study, we assessed 75 327 singleton children of atomic bomb survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and unexposed controls, born between 1946 and 1984, and followed up to Dec 31, 2009. Parental gonadal doses of radiation from the atomic bombings were the primary exposures. The primary endpoint was death due to cancer or non-cancer disease, based on death certificates.
Late effects of ionising radiation exposure include increased mortality risks, and models of the transgenerational effects of radiation exposure predict more genetic disease in the children of people exposed to radiation. However, children of people exposed to the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki had no indications of deleterious health effects after 62 years. Epidemiological studies complemented by sensitive molecular techniques are needed to understand the overall effects of preconception exposure to ionising radiation on human beings.
Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, US Department of Energy.

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