Protracted radiation exposure and cancer mortality in the Techa River Cohort

Radiat Res. 2005 Nov;164(5):602-11. doi: 10.1667/rr3452.1.


In the 1950s many thousands of people living in rural villages on the Techa River received protracted internal and external exposures to ionizing radiation from the release of radioactive material from the Mayak plutonium production complex. The Extended Techa River Cohort includes 29,873 people born before 1950 who lived near the river sometime between 1950 and 1960. Vital status and cause of death are known for most cohort members. Individualized dose estimates have been computed using the Techa River Dosimetry System 2000. The analyses provide strong evidence of long-term carcinogenic effects of protracted low-dose-rate exposures; however, the risk estimates must be interpreted with caution because of uncertainties in the dose estimates. We provide preliminary radiation risk estimates for cancer mortality based on 1,842 solid cancer deaths (excluding bone cancer) and 61 deaths from leukemia. The excess relative risk per gray for solid cancer is 0.92 (95% CI 0.2; 1.7), while those for leukemia, including and excluding chronic lymphocytic leukemia, are 4.2 (CI 95% 1.2; 13) and 6.5 (CI 95% 1.8; 24), respectively. It is estimated that about 2.5% of the solid cancer deaths and 63% of the leukemia deaths are associated with the radiation exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Radiation-Induced / mortality*
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / mortality*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Rivers / chemistry*
  • Russia
  • Water Pollutants, Radioactive / toxicity*


  • Water Pollutants, Radioactive