Journal of Cancer Research and Therapeutics

: 2011  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 478--480

Nuclear denotation and increased incidence of cancer: A present concern in cancer research

Viroj Wiwanitkit 
 Wiwanitkit House, Bangkhae, Bangkok, Thailand

Correspondence Address:
Viroj Wiwanitkit
Wiwanitkit House, Bangkhae, Bangkok - 10160


The recent destruction of the nuclear electricity plant in Japan has led to nuclear leakage. The nuclear denotation has become the present issue of concern. In oncology, there is no doubt that exposure to nuclear leakage can cause cancer. In this particular brief article, the author discusses the existing evidence of nuclear denotation and the incidence of cancer.

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Wiwanitkit V. Nuclear denotation and increased incidence of cancer: A present concern in cancer research.J Can Res Ther 2011;7:478-480

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Wiwanitkit V. Nuclear denotation and increased incidence of cancer: A present concern in cancer research. J Can Res Ther [serial online] 2011 [cited 2020 Jul 6 ];7:478-480
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The recent tsunami attack in Japan is a serious episode. It killed thousands of the Japanese and caused a loss of several million US dollars. [1] In addition, this natural disaster also caused the destruction of the nuclear electricity plant in Japan, leading to nuclear leakage. The nuclear denotation occurred. [1] The nuclear denotation has become the present issue of concern. [1],[2] To date (late April, 2011), the problem is still not under control.

Anything 'Nuclear' is not safe for any living thing that is exposed to it, at a high dosage. In oncology, there is no doubt that exposure to nuclear leakage can cause cancer. In this particular brief article, the author discusses the existing evidence of nuclear denotation and the incidence of cancer.

Evidence on the increased incidence of cancer in the population exposed to nuclear leakage:

With reference to the previous famous nuclear leakage crisis, the Chernobyl crisis, there are some interesting evidences on the incidence of cancer in the population exposed to nuclear leakage. [3] The evidence on some interesting cancers is discussed herewith:

 Thyroid Cancer

There were several evidences on the increased incidence of thyroid cancer in the subjects exposed to thyroid leakage. [4],[5] According to the report of the United Nations Scientific Committee, on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, the collective thyroid dose, in 1986, was 1,600,000 man(m)Gray (Gy). [6] Based on this fact, 'a radiation-related increase in thyroid cancer incidence in children and adolescents, with the highest incidence in the age group of zero-to-four years,' was found. [7] Cardis and Hatch concluded that the risk was greatest in the youngest during exposure and the underlying iodine deficiency might increase the risk. [8] In addition, an increased incidence in the adult population was also reported (with an additional significant increase in the cancer incidence of 2.6% per year). [9] Hence, there is no doubt that the use of potassium iodide prophylaxis be recommended in the post-crisis of nuclear plant disruption. [10] According to the WHO guidelines, prophylaxis should be given to protect pregnant and breast-feeding women, newborns, and children under 18 years first. [11]


Leukemia is another important cancer that is widely mentioned. In the case of the Chernobyl crisis, increased incidence of leukemia was reported in many articles. Noshchenko et al., reported a significant increased risk of acute leukemia (AL) among those with radiation exposure doses higher than 10 mGy. [12] Several kinds of leukemia had been noted. [12],[13] Gluzman et al., noted on the observed pattern that 'the AL pattern was seen to be quite typical, except for several peculiar features characteristic of this regional group of patients, especially the absence of age peaks in children with acute myelogenous leukemia, increased frequency of the T1 variant in the T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and higher levels of M4 and M5 variants in AML'. [14] However, several publications were against the findings. [15],[16],[17],[18],[19] Discordant reports on the null effect of exposure and leukemogenesis have been published. [15],[16],[17],[18],[19]

 Brain Cancer

Whether brain cancer incidence increases due to nuclear leakage exposure is still questionable. Some reports have noted the increased incidence. [19],[20],[21] Tondel et al., have noted 'a continuous increase of brain tumor incidence in children, in the age group of 0 - 19 years, during the period 1978 - 1992, without a clear relationship to the Chernobyl fallout.'. [20]

 Lung Cancer

Another malignancy that is widely studied is lung cancer. [22],[23] Long-term deposition of radionuclide in the bronchopulmonary system of radiation-exposed subjects who finally develop lung cancer is reported in literature. [24] It has been reported that 'extensive cancer-related molecular abnormalities sequentially occur in radiation-damaged bronchial epithelium' in highly exposed subjects. [25]

What is to be studied in the future cancer research?

As already discussed, the increased incidence of cancer can be seen in subjects exposed to high radiation levels after a nuclear crisis. The confirmation of thyroid cancer leads to the suggestion of preventive action. For the other cancers, although there are some reports it is still not conclusive.

The future research should follow up the subjects publicly exposed to low (< 0.1 Gy) and high (> 0.1 Gy) radiation levels, to derive new epidemiological data on cancers. In addition, due to the good medical laboratory techniques at present, an in-depth study on the relationship between the underlying genomics of the indexed cancer cases might also provide a new insight to this topic. A long-term follow-up of more than 20 years is suggested. [1],[6],[26]

Comparing the present fallout of radionuclide in Fukushima with the case of Chernobyl, some differences can be seen. The iodine status of the population in Fukushima, which is next to the sea, should be less deficient that those in Chernobyl. The estimate of the external collective doses to the local populations in the disaster areas in the case of Fukushima (4,400 person.Sv) is lesser than that in the case of Chernobyl (7,300 person.Sv). [26] Finally, based on the experience from the case of Chernobyl, preventive action was possible in the present Fukushima case and early evacuation was done. [26] These factors can affect the detected cancer rate in the future.


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