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August 3, 1994

Thyroid Diseases Among Atomic Bomb Survivors in Nagasaki

JAMA. 1994;272(5):364-370. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03520050044028

Objective.  —To elucidate the current thyroid disease status for the Nagasaki Adult Health Study cohort of the Radiation Effects Research Foundation.

Design.  —Survey study.

Setting.  —Nagasaki, Japan.

Participants.  —Cohort members of the Nagasaki Adult Health Study who received biennial health examinations from October 1984 to April 1987 (n=2856). A total of 2587 subjects remained after exclusion of persons exposed in Hiroshima or in utero and those who were not in Nagasaki at the time of the bombing. Thyroid radiation dose by the dosimetry system established in 1986 was available for 1978 of the 2587 subjects.

Main Outcome Measures.  —Thyroid diseases were diagnosed using uniform procedures including ultrasonic scanning. The relationship of the prevalence of each thyroid disease with thyroid radiation dose, sex, and age was analyzed using logistic models.

Results.  —A significant dose-response relationship was observed for solid nodules, which include cancer, adenoma, adenomatous goiter, and nodules without histological diagnosis, and for antibody-positive spontaneous hypothyroidism (autoimmune hypothyroidism) but not for other diseases. The prevalence of solid nodules showed a monotonic dose-response relationship, yet that of autoimmune hypothyroidism displayed a concave dose-response relationship reaching a maximum (±SE) level of 0.7±0.2 Sv.

Conclusions.  —The present study confirmed the results of previous studies by showing a significant increase in solid nodules with dose to the thyroid and demonstrated for the first time a significant increase in autoimmune disease among atomic bomb survivors. A concave dose-response relationship indicates the necessity for further studies on the effects of relatively low doses of radiation on thyroid disease.(JAMA. 1994;272:364-370)