Increased risk of thyroid cancer in female residents nearby nuclear power plants in Korea: was it due to detection bias?

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Kim, Bong-Kyu; Kim, Jung-Min; Kim, Myoung-Hee; Paek, Do-Myung; Hwang, Seung-Sik; Ha, Mi-Na; Ju, Young-Su
Issue Date
BioMed Central
Annals of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 30(1):21
Nuclear power plantKREECThyroid cancerRadiationDetection bias
The Korea Radiation Effect & Epidemiology Cohort - The resident cohort (KREEC-R) study concluded that there is no epidemiological or causal evidence supporting any increase in cancer risks resulting from radiation from Korean nuclear power plants (NPPs). But the risks of thyroid cancer in women were significantly higher in residents living near NPPs than control. Debate about the cause of the pattern of thyroid cancer incidence in women is ongoing and some researchers argue that detection bias influenced the result of KREEC-R study. Therefore there was a need to investigate whether residents living near NPPs who were assessed in the KREEC-R were actually tested more often for thyroid cancer. We evaluated the possibility of detection bias in the finding of the KREEC-R study based on materials available at this time.

Using the KREEC-R raw data, we calculated age standardized rates (ASRs) of female thyroid cancer and re-analyzed the results of survey on the use of medical services. We also marked the administrative districts of residents who received the Radiation Health Research Institute (RHRI) health examinations and those in which thyroid cancer case occurred as per the Chonnam National University Research Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) final report on maps where the locations of NPPs and 5 km-radii around them were also indicated. And we compared the incidence rates of Radiation-induced cancer measured between the first period when RHRI health examinations were not yet implemented, and the second period when the RHRI health examinations were implemented.

The ASR for the far-distance group, which comprised residents living in areas outside the 30 km radius of the NPPs, increased rapidly after 2000; however, that of the exposed group, which comprised residents living within a 5 km radius of the NPPs, started to increase rapidly even before 1995. The frequencies of the use of medical services were significantly higher in the intermediate proximate group, which comprised residents living within a 5–30 km radius of the NPPs, than in the exposed group in women. In case of female thyroid cancer, the second period ASR was higher than the first period ASR, but in case of female liver cancer and female stomach cancer no significant difference were observed between the periods. On map, many administrative districts of residents who received RHRI health examinations and most administrative districts in which thyroid cancer case occurred on RIMS final report were outside 5 km-radii around NPPs.

We could not find any evidence supporting the assertion that detection bias influenced the increased risks of female thyroid cancer observed in the exposed group of the KREEC-R study, as opposed to the control group.
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Graduate School of Public Health (보건대학원)Dept. of Public Health (보건학과)Journal Papers (저널논문_보건학과)
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