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Childhood leukaemia risks: from unexplained findings near nuclear installations to recommendations for future research

​​Journal of Radiological Protection / Volume 34, Issue 3, September 2014

Summary

​Recent findings related to childhood leukaemia incidence near nuclear installations have raised questions which can be answered neither by current knowledge on radiation risk nor by other established risk factors. In 2012, a workshop was organised on this topic with two objectives: (a) review of results and discussion of methodological limitations of studies near nuclear installations; (b) identification of directions for future research into the causes and pathogenesis of childhood leukaemia. The workshop gathered 42 participants from different disciplines, extending widely outside of the radiation protection field. Regarding the proximity of nuclear installations, the need for continuous surveillance of childhood leukaemia incidence was highlighted, including a better characterisation of the local population. The creation of collaborative working groups was recommended for consistency in methodologies and the possibility of combining data for future analyses. Regarding the causes of childhood leukaemia, major fields of research were discussed (environmental risk factors, genetics, infections, immunity, stem cells, experimental research). The need for multidisciplinary collaboration in developing research activities was underlined, including the prevalence of potential predisposition markers and investigating further the infectious aetiology hypothesis. Animal studies and genetic/epigenetic approaches appear of great interest. Routes for future research were pointed out.

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