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More Childhood Cancer Near Nuclear Power Plants

German study

The german section of IPPNW has initiated a study, which approves that children under the age of five living near nuclear power stations have contracted cancer at a greatly higher rate than the national average. The study was paid for by the German Federal Radiation Protection Agency (BfS) the government's main adviser on nuclear health. It was conducted by the German Register of Child Cancer, an office in Mainz which is funded by the 16 German states and the federal Health Ministry.

The risk of cancer increased by 60 percent for children living less than five kilometres (three miles) from a nuclear power plant, according to the study. The risk was 117 percent higher when only leukemia was taken into account.The study looked at statistics from between 1980 and 2003 in regions near 21 reactors or former reactors. In those areas, 77 cases of cancer were found among children under five, or a 60-percent increase over the national average. Some 37 cases of leukemia were recorded instead of the average of 17.

"Our study confirms that in Germany a relationship is observable between the proximity of the home to the nearest nuclear power plant at the time of diagnosis and the risk of contracting cancer (respectively leukaemia) before the child's fifth birthday," the researchers write.

One member of the expert commission that oversaw the study even considers the conclusions to be understated. According to him, the data indicate an increased risk of cancer for children in a radius of 50 kilometres.

It needed lobbying since 2001 by the local IPPNW section and more than 10,000 protest letters from the public authorities and ministries to get the BfS to commission the study. The campaign was triggered by a study initiated by the IPPNW and carried by Dr. Alfred Körblein (Environment Institute Munich), which found significantly higher child cancer incidence near Bavarian nuclear power stations.

The BfS commissioned its study to the Mainzer Kinderkrebsregister (Mainz Child Cancer Register) in 2003.

“Now that the connection between increased cancer and leukaemia rates and proximity of the residence to the nuclear power station has been established, the causes of this must be further clarified immediately,” IPPNW says in a media release.

“The population affected at nuclear power station locations must be examined by suitable screening methods fast and comprehensively.”

“Given these massive findings at every German nuclear power station location, a radiation-linked cause is highly likely in every case. Anyone who now still talks of coincidence is making himself ridiculous,” writes Dr. med. Angelika Claussen, chair of the German IPPNW.

“The precautionary principle enshrined in European environment law now demands that the German nuclear power stations be switched off immediately.”

“The IPPNW demands that the environment ministry now greatly reduce the obviously too lax upper limits for radioactive emissions from nuclear power stations. From now on the burden of proof of cause of illness should no longer have to be borne by parents, but conversely by the operators of the nuclear installations.”

The BfS media release about its study in German: www.bfs.de/en/bfs/presse/aktuell_press/Studie_Kernkraftwerke.html

More IPPNW background and chronology in German at www.ippnw-ulm.de

More on the topic: www.alfred-koerblein.de www.bfs.de

Contact: Reinhold Thiel, #49 0176-511 64 195 or #49 7346-8407,
Dr. med. Angelika Claussen, IPPNW Chair #49 521-15 22 13,
Henrik Paulitz, IPPNW expert on nuclear energy issues #49 621-3972-668.

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