Incidence of female breast cancer among atomic bomb survivors, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 1950-1980

Radiat Res. 1987 Nov;112(2):243-72.


Ascertainment of breast cancer incidence among the cohort of the RERF Life Span Study extended sample identified 574 breast cancers among 564 cases diagnosed during 1950-1980 of which 412 cancers were reviewed microscopically. There were no dose-dependent differences with respect to diagnostic certainty or histological type. As in previous studies, the dose response appeared to be roughly linear and did not differ between the two cities. The most remarkable new finding was the emergence of a radiation-related excess among women under 10 years of age at exposure. The risk of radiogenic breast cancer appears to decrease with increasing age at exposure, whether expressed in relative or absolute terms. These results suggest that exposure of female breast tissue to ionizing radiation at any time during the first four decades of life, even during the premature stage, can cause breast cancer later in life, and that the length of time that tumor promoters such as endogenous hormones operate following exposure has an important influence on the development of radiation-induced breast cancer. An unresolved question is whether breast cancer risk is increased by radiation exposure at ages older than 40.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / etiology
  • Nuclear Warfare*
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Time Factors