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Remember Chernobyl?

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Nearly 25 years after the nuclear power plant exploded in Chernobyl in the Ukraine, a new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives finds that those who were exposed to the fallout as children and adolescents still have a high risk of developing thyroid cancer, according to an NIH press release. A team of researchers, led by scientists at NCI, has found that the high absorption rate of radiation from iodine-131 — the radioactive isotope leaked by the Chernobyl accident — has led to "an increased risk for thyroid cancer that has not seemed to diminish over time," NIH says. The study included 12,500 participants who were younger than 18 at the time of the accident, and who lived in one of the three Ukrainian provinces closest to the blast. Thyroid radioactivity levels were measured for each participant within two months of the blast, NIH says, and the patients were also screened for thyroid cancer up to four times a year for 10 years, starting about 12 years after the accident. "Researchers calculated cancer risk in relation to how much energy from I-131was absorbed by each person's thyroid, measured in grays," NIH says. "A gray is the International System of Units measure of absorbed radiation. Each additional gray was associated with a twofold increase in radiation-related thyroid cancer risk." The researchers found no evidence to show that the study participants' cancer risk was decreasing, NIH adds.

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