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April 20, 1984

Cancer Among Nuclear Test Participants

Author Affiliations

Meharry Medical College School of Medicine Nashville, Tenn

JAMA. 1984;251(15):1951. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340390015007

To the Editor.—  I find serious fault with the article on cancer among nuclear test participants by Caldwell et al in a recent issue of JAMA.1 The authors claim to have found no statistically significant increase in the incidence of any cancer other than leukemia. However, the authors are unable to account for 145 members (4.5%) of the cohort under study. The fate of these members could markedly effect the outcome of the study.The authors state, "We have assumed that they were alive and free of cancer." Proper methodology can allow no such assumption. It is likely that a portion of these men could not be located because of death from cancer. Such a possibility might well have invalidated the authors' findings.