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Nuclear Plants Not Responsible for Raising Children’s Risk of Cancer

Update Date: Sep 13, 2013 09:39 AM EDT

Nuclear plants have gotten a bad reputation for being the cause of cancers since they are huge polluters. Since pollution contributes to global warming and poor air quality, nuclear plants can also be considered responsible for climate changes and respiratory illnesses. Due to the fact that nuclear plants are detrimental to the environment, people might try to avoid living near one. However, in a new study, researchers report that living near nuclear power plants does not increase a child's risk of leukemia.

For this study, the research team headed by John Bithell from the Childhood Cancer Research Group, examined data on around 10,000 children under five-years-old. The team looked at the birth records for almost every single childhood leukemia case between 1962 and 2007 in Britain. The researchers had looked at how close children were to the power plants when they were born and when they were diagnosed by measuring the distance. Based from their measurements and the medical data taken from the National Registry of Childhood Tumors, the researchers concluded that there was no increased risk of cancer associated with living near a nuclear plant. The research team also compared this data to data on over 16,000 children that developed other kinds of cancer during that time. They did not find that nuclear plants increased risk of cancer for these young children.

"The incidence of childhood leukemia near nuclear installations in Great Britain has been a concern ever since the 1980s when an excess of cancer in young people near Sellafield was reported in a television program," said Bithell according to BBC News. "Since then, there have been conflicting reports in the UK and Europe as to whether there is an increased incidence of childhood cancer near nuclear power plants."

The research team believes that their recent study provides a very comprehensive viewpoint on cancer risk. The team stated that they have looked at every case of childhood leukemia and found no risk. However, Cancer Research UK stated that the study failed to look at all types of plants and recommended more research. This study is not the first of its kind to dispel the link between nuclear plants and cancer risk. However, due to many contradicting studies that have and have not found an association between the two factors, it is hard to conclude whether or not nuclear plants affect one's risk of cancer.  

The study was published in the British Journal of Cancer

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