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Some Hiroshima Survivors at Thyroid Cancer Risk
Date:8/29/2008

Radiation may have caused chromosomal change that raises odds for malignancy, study finds

FRIDAY, Aug. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Some Japanese survivors of the World War II atomic bomb blasts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki experienced key genetic changes that may have sparked the onset of a form of thyroid cancer, new research indicates.

Papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) is typically linked to a particular genetic mutation involving the so-called BRAF gene. But Japanese researchers say that among Japanese atom bomb survivors, a different and relatively rare disease trigger -- involving the chromosomal rearrangement of the RET/PTC gene -- seems to be to blame.

Though both mechanisms spur activation of the same enzyme-signaling pathway that leads to PTC, "the RET/PTC rearrangements were more common among cancers from individuals with higher (radiation exposure) doses, cancers that occurred earlier after the A-bomb exposure, and cancers among those who were at younger ages at A-bomb exposure," noted study lead author Kiyohiro Hamatani.

Hamatani is chief of the laboratory of cell biology in the department of radiobiology/molecular epidemiology at the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF), in Hiroshima. He and his colleagues reported their findings in the Sept. 1 issue of Cancer Research.

The finding is just the latest from a decades-long tracking of 120,000 Japanese atom bomb survivors. It comes on the heels of an analysis released this past spring that revealed that young children exposed to radioactive atomic fallout in the blasts faced a greater risk of adult cancers than those exposed to radiation while still in the womb.

With respect to radiation-associated PTC, the authors noted that other studies have uncovered evidence of similar (but not identical) chromosomal rearrangements among childhood survivors of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident in Russia who later developed PTC.'/>"/>

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