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Childhood Leukemia and Cancers Near German Nuclear Reactors: Significance, Context, and Ramifications of Recent Studies

International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health (2009)
Rudi H. Nussbaum

A government-sponsored study of childhood cancer in the proximity of German nuclear power plants (German acronym KiKK) found that children < 5 years living < 5 km from plant exhaust stacks had twice the risk for contracting leukemia as those residing > 5 km. The researchers concluded that since “this result was not to be expected under current radiation-epidemiological knowledge” and confounders could not be identified, the observed association of leukemia incidence with residential proximity to nuclear plants “remains unexplained.” This unjustified conclusion illustrates the dissonance between evidence and assumptions. There exist serious flaws and gaps in the knowledge on which accepted models for population exposure and radiation risk are based. Studies with results contradictory to those of KiKK lack statistical power to invalidate its findings. The KiKK study’s ramifications add to the urgency for a public policy debate regarding the health impact of nuclear power generation. 

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