Iwasaki, T., Murata, M., Ohshima, S., Miyake, T., Kudo, S., Inoue, Y., Narita, M., Yoshimura, T., Akiba, S., Tango, T., Yoshimoto, Y., Shimizu, Y., Sobue, T., Kusumi, S., Yamagishi, C. and Matsudaira, H. Second Analysis of Mortality of Nuclear Industry Workers in Japan, 1986–1997. Radiat. Res. 159, 228–238 (2003).
A cohort study of nuclear industry workers was initiated in 1990 to determine the possible health effects of low-level radiation. A total of 5,527 deaths were ascertained among 176,000 male workers who had been retrospectively and/or prospectively followed for an average of 7.9 years during the observation period 1986–1997. Statistical analyses were made mainly on the prospective follow-up outcome of 120,000 workers followed for an average of 4.5 years. The standardized mortality ratio (and its 95% confidence interval) was 0.94 (0.90, 0.97) for 2,934 cases of all causes combined and 0.86 (0.82, 0.91) for 1,305 cases of non-malignant diseases combined, which suggested a healthy worker effect. For 1,191 cases of all cancers combined, it was 0.98 (0.93, 1.04), indicating no difference in mortality from that of the general population. In tests for trend of death rate with increasing radiation dose, no significant correlation was found for all cancers combined. For site-specific cancers, most cancers including leukemia showed no positive correlation with dose, except for cancers of the esophagus, stomach and rectum and multiple myeloma. External causes showed a significant correlation with dose. A separate questionnaire study indicated that these positive findings could be ascribed in part to lifestyle characteristics of the workers. For leukemia only, we attempted to estimate the excess relative risk per unit dose of radiation, which, with reservations because of its wide confidence interval, was within the range of variation of the risks reported in other radiation epidemiological studies. This population must be studied for a longer time and with a consideration of the possible effects of confounding factors.