Nuke workers face higher cancer rates, study says;

Northumberland Today.Com: JOYCE CASSIN - July 2 2009

A study which looked at cancer rates among Canadian workers concluded nuclear-power workers are 3.8 times more likely to die from radiation-related cancer than nonworkers, but Mayor Linda Thompson says the report does not apply to Port Hope workers.

A 30-page report, Exposure to Radiation and Health Outcomes, commissioned by the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, found that chronic exposure to low doses of radiation causes the higher risk.

The study of 407,391 nuclear power workers from 15 countries over a 12-year period claims to have found the employees are twice as likely to die from all causes of cancer than the general public because of the extra radiation exposure, the report written by Saskatchewan-based health researcher Mark Lemstra states.

In Canada, one of the 15 countries studied, reactor workers are 7.65 times more likely to die from all causes of cancer compared to non-employees, the report stated.

The results confirm chronic exposure to low doses of radiation are associated with an excess relative risk of cancer mortality, the study states.

The report was presented to the Future of Uranium in Saskatchewan stakeholder conference in Regina last week.

According to Lemstra, the report was a compilation of more than 1,700 articles he found in medical databases, reference lists and on the Internet.

"Studies reviewed in Port Hope are based over many years which include the actual health of nuclear workers and multiple studies in regards to community members," Thompson said in reaction to the Lemstra report.

"Based on the actual health of workers and the community Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and Health Canada conclude the health of Port Hope residents is consistent with the rest of the population of Ontario and Canada. As directed by the Commissioners of the CNSC any new information will be taken into consideration."

"The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) disagrees with the stated conclusions of articles appearing in theStar Phoenixon June 23, 2009 concerning health risks to nuclear plant workers," Michael Binder, president and chief executive officer of the CNSC, stated in a letter to the Saskatoon Star Phoenix. "Canadian nuclear workers are healthier than the general Canadian population and there is no evidence that people living near nuclear power stations have increased risk of any disease."

The CNSC was surprised that the report failed to mention the important conclusion of the 15-country study (IARC study) that Canadian nuclear workers have a 24% lower risk of all cancers in comparison to the Canadian population, Binder said in the letter to the Star Phoenix.

"The CNSC acknowledges the influence that the Canadian workers data had on the validity of the results of the IARC study and has initiated an analysis to understand the apparent differences in the risk estimates between Canadian and other nuclear workers," he wrote.

"However, there is no evidence that Canadian nuclear workers have a higher risk of developing cancer than workers in other countries or the Canadian population in general."

Several studies conducted in Canada on potential health effects of nuclear facilities on the public have shown that rates of mortality and disease like cancer are similar to those of the general population, he added.

"The Canadian nuclear industry is strongly regulated by the CNSC and as a consequence workers and the Canadian public are protected," Binder said.

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