Incidence of Childhood leukaemia in the vicinity of nuclear sites in France 1990-1998.
ML White-Koning, D He mon, D Laurier, M Tirmarche, E Jougla, A Goubin and J Clavel, British Journal of Cancer, juillet 2004.
Reports of an increased incidence of leukaemia among young people living near the nuclear site of Sellafield lead to an extensive investigation of this area (COMARE, 1996) and the sites of Dounreay (COMARE, 1988), Aldermaston and Burghfield (COMARE, 1989), 20 years ago. Radiological studies showed that the levels of radioactivity in these areas were far below those necessary to account for the observed excesses (Dionan et al, 1986, 1987; Simmonds et al, 1995). Kinlen (1988, 1995) and Kinlen et al (1995) hypothesised that the high rates of population mixing due to the construction of the sites may induce local epidemics of an unknown infective agent. Although some results are consistent with this hypothesis (Dickinson and Parker, 1999; Boutou et al, 2002), the underlying biological mechanism has yet to be determined. Several studies have systematically examined the evidence relating to all of a country’s nuclear installations. Mortality studies in the USA (Jablon et al, 1991), Canada (McLaughlin et al, 1993), France (Hattchouel et al, 1995), Spain (Lopez-Abente et al, 1999) and Japan (Iwasaki et al, 1995), and incidence studies in England and Wales (Bithell et al, 1994), Scotland (Sharp et al, 1996), Germany (Michaelis et al, 1992; Kaatsch et al, 1998), Sweden (Waller et al, 1995), Canada (McLaughlin et al, 1993) and the USA (Jablon et al, 1991) found no statistical evidence of an excess of leukaemia among children living around nuclear sites. In France, despite indications of increased incidence for certain combinations of age groups and geographical areas, extensive investigation of the La Hague site (Viel and Richardson, 1990; Viel et al, 1993, 1995; Pobel and Viel, 1997; Guizard et al, 2001; Boutou et al, 2002) finally yielded, as for the Marcoule site (Bouges et al, 1999), no evidence of a significant excess of cases of childhood leukaemia. The present paper reports the first systematic study of the incidence of childhood leukaemia around all 29 French nuclear installations.