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The World in Medicine
June 15, 2005

Iodine and Thyroid Cancer

JAMA. 2005;293(23):2850. doi:10.1001/jama.293.23.2850-d

Iodine deficiency substantially heightens the risk of thyroid cancer in children exposed to radioactive iodine and iodine supplementation can markedly reduce that risk, according to a study of individuals living in areas affected by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident (J Natl Cancer Inst. 2005;97:703-704).

The study, led by researchers at the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France, and other institutions, involved 276 individuals with thyroid cancer and 1300 controls, all of whom were age 15 years or younger at the time of the Chernobyl disaster. The researchers found a strong dose-response relationship between radiation dose to the thyroid and thyroid cancer risk and determined that the risk was 3 times higher in iodine-deficient areas than in other regions. However, the risk was reduced by one third in children who received potassium iodine supplements after the accident.

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