Increased incidence of malignancies in Sweden after the Chernobyl accident--a promoting effect?

Am J Ind Med. 2006 Mar;49(3):159-68. doi: 10.1002/ajim.20271.


Background: After the Chernobyl accident in 1986, as much as 5% of the released caesium-137 was deposited in Sweden due to a heavy rainfall 2 days after the event. A study of increased incidence of malignancies was initiated after the accident.

Methods: The cohort included 1,137,106 inhabitants who were 0-60 years old in 1986 and lived in 8 counties of Sweden with the highest fallout of caesium-137. With the dwelling coordinate, GIS-technique and a digital map on caesium-137, each individual was matched for the exposure. Adjustments were made for several potential confounding factors. During the follow-up 33,851 malignancies was recorded 1988-1999.

Results: Exposure categories were: 0-8 (reference), 9-23, 24-43, 44-66, 67-84, and > or =85 nGy/hr. The corresponding adjusted Mantel-Haenszel incidence rate ratios for total malignancies during follow-up amounted to 1.000, 0.997, 1.072, 1.114, 1.068, 1.125, respectively. The excess relative risk per 100 nGy/hr with the same adjustments and time period was 0.042 95% confidence limit 0.001;0.084. An excess for thyroid cancer or leukemia could not be ruled out.

Conclusion: Increased incidence of total malignancies possibly related to the fallout from the Chernobyl accident is seen.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cesium Radioisotopes / toxicity*
  • Chernobyl Nuclear Accident*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Radioactive Fallout / adverse effects*
  • Sweden / epidemiology


  • Cesium Radioisotopes
  • Radioactive Fallout