-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, April 3 (HealthDay News) -- There were about 4,300
fewer than expected cases of cancer among people in Sacramento
County, Calif., in the two decades after the closure of the Rancho
Seco nuclear reactor, according to a new study.
The researchers found declines in cancer incidence in 28 of 31
categories, including notable drops in cancer among women, children
The findings from the first long-term study of the
full-population health impacts of the closure of a U.S. nuclear
reactor show the need for a full review of the risks posed by
low-level radiation, said study authors Joseph Mangano, an
epidemiologist and executive director of the Radiation and Public
Health Project, and Dr. Janette Sherman, an internist and
Declines in cancer cases among both males and females were seen
in Sacramento County after the Rancho Seco nuclear plant closed
more than 23 years ago. Because the decline was four times greater
among women than men, however, it was deemed statistically
significant only for females.
Breast and thyroid cancers were among the four types of cancer
that showed a significant decrease among females, according to the
study, published online recently in the journal
Between 1988 and 1994, the cancer rate among children aged 19
and younger in Sacramento County fell from nearly 18 to about 15
cases per 100,000, a drop of nearly 14 percent. During the same
period, the California state rate did not change, the investigators
Over the next two five-year periods, the cancer rate among
children in the county continued to fall before rising from 2005 to
2009 to a level that was still lower than what is was in the late
1980s, the study authors said in a news release from the Radiation
and Public Health Project.
The researchers said their findings are important for the
millions of Americans who live around active and idled nuclear
"The impact of reactors should be measured not only in terms of health, but also in terms of cost," Sherman said in the news release. "For example, the 4,319 fewer cancers than expected in Sacramento County during the first 20 years after the Rancho Seco closure translates into many millions saved in direct medical costs, reduction of productivity lost and additional savings associated with the value of a human life."
"With large numbers such as these -- and with the future of this source of power a matter of great public concern -- reports like this one must be followed by ongoing efforts to attain better understanding of potential improvements in public health after reactors are shut down," Sherman added.
Although the study found an association between the closing of
the Rancho Seco nuclear reactor and a long-term decline in cancer
incidence in the county, the researchers pointed out that
additional research is needed to determine if there is a
The American Cancer Society has more about
radiation and cancer.
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