Leukemia incidence in the Russian cohort of Chernobyl emergency workers

Radiat Environ Biophys. 2012 May;51(2):143-9. doi: 10.1007/s00411-011-0400-y. Epub 2012 Jan 14.


Of all potentially radiogenic cancers, leukemia, a type of cancer of the blood, has the highest risk attributable to ionizing radiation. Despite this, the quantitative estimation of radiation risk of a leukemia demands studying very large exposed cohorts, because of the very low level of this disease in unexposed populations and because of the tendency for its radiation risk to decrease with time. At present, the Japanese cohort of atomic bomb survivors is still the primary source of data that allows analysis of radiation-induced leukemia and the underlying dose-response relationship. The second large cohort that would allow to study radiation-induced leukemia is comprised of individuals who were exposed due to the accident of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986. The objective of the present study was to estimate radiation risks of leukemia incidence among the Russian cohort of Chernobyl emergency workers, for different time periods after the accident. Twenty-five years after the Chernobyl accident and based on the results of the present study, one can conclude that the radiation risk of leukemia incidence derived from the Russian cohort of Chernobyl emergency workers is similar to that derived from the cohort of atomic bomb survivors: The time-averaged excess relative risk per Gray (ERR Gy(-1)) equals 4.98 for the Russian cohort and 3.9 for the life span study (LSS) cohort; excess absolute risk decreases with time after exposure at an annual rate of 9% for the Russian cohort, and of 6.5% for the LSS cohort. Thus, the excess in risk of leukemia incidence in a population due to a single exposure is restricted in time after exposure by the period of about 15 years.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chernobyl Nuclear Accident*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Leukemia, Radiation-Induced / blood
  • Leukemia, Radiation-Induced / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis*
  • Power Plants
  • Risk Factors
  • Russia / epidemiology
  • Survival Rate
  • Survivors / statistics & numerical data
  • Ukraine