Both the great Truths and the great Falsehoods of the twentieth century lie hidden in the arcane, widely inaccessible, and seemingly mundane domain of the radiation sciences

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Trial of the Cult of Nuclearists: EXHIBIT F continued

What follows is the continuation, in serial form, of a central chapter from my book A Primer in the Art of Deception: The Cult of Nuclearists, Uranium Weapons and Fraudulent Science.

EXHIBIT F continued:

The ECRR relates an interesting story with regard to the search for correlations between atmospheric weapon testing and childhood cancer. During and following the period of aboveground weapon detonations, a disturbing increase in childhood cancers, notably leukemia and brain cancer, began to be noted. In an attempt to provide an explanation for this trend, the hypothesis was advanced that fallout, perhaps strontium-90, occurring in milk, was responsible. In the UK, the Medical Research Council was asked to make a study of this hypothesis. The council reported, on the advice of the epidemiologist Sir Richard Doll, that according to the data from Hiroshima, fallout could not be the cause of the childhood cancers because the doses were too low. In 1994, Doll, with a number of other researchers [1], published a famous study concerning the relationship between childhood leukemia and fallout in Nordic countries. They discovered a modest increase in the incidence of the disease during the period 1948-58 and 1965-85, from 6.0 cases per 100,000 to 6.5 cases. This increase was deemed insignificant. According to the ECRR, this study is frequently cited as proof that low doses of internal radiation produce no adverse affects on health. Since then, the study has been reexamined and found to be riddled with errors that prejudiced the conclusions. (An extensive discussion can be found in Busby’s Wings of Death.) The first error was that the rates of childhood leukemia in the five Nordic countries of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland were pooled together despite the fact that, due to different rainfall patterns, doses to the populations would not be uniform. Further, the populations had different eating habits and different genetic make-up. These differences invalidated the methodology of pooling the data. The second error was that no data of childhood leukemia were presented for any time prior to the study period. (A study in the UK by the Medical Research Council, co-authored by Richard Doll, displayed unequivocal evidence of a rise in the rate of childhood leukemia corresponding to the beginning of atmospheric detonations of atomic bombs.) The third error was catastrophic to the study. The leukemia data for the period 1948-58 was drawn exclusively from the Danish Cancer Registry. This was then compared, for the period 1965-85, with the pooled data from the five Nordic countries. No mention is given in the paper that the study population changed halfway through the study! Only by these monumental errors were the authors of the Nordic Leukemia Study able to conclude that the risk factors of the ICRP for childhood leukemia were essentially correct.

The ECRR states that when the pooled data of the five Nordic countries is correctly compared for the period under study, leukemia in children 0-4 years old increased from about 5.0 cases per 100,000 to 6.5 cases. This was an increase of about 30%. Concerning this increase, the ECRR makes the following observation:

The leukemia incidence increase of 30% in the children exposed over the 5-year period [1958-63] followed a cumulative dose of between the 0.15 mSv bone marrow dose received in utero and the 0.8 mSv received between ages 0 and 4. This suggests an error in the ICRP risk factor (of 0.0065 per Sievert, for children) of between three and 15-fold if no further excess leukemia occurred in this cohort and an error of between 40 and 200-fold if this excess risk continued throughout their lives. In this respect it is of interest that a similar proportionate increase of about 30% occurred in the trend in Standardized Incidence Ratio of ‘All Cancers’ in England and Wales some 20 years after the exposure.”

The CERRIE Minority report mentions a study of childhood leukemia in England and Wales after weapons fallout by Bentham and Haynes. The researchers stratified different geographical areas by rainfall exposure and studied the correlation between this exposure and rates of leukemia. A 25 percent excess in the disease was observed in high rainfall areas relative to areas of low rainfall. This observation is in agreement with the revised data of childhood leukemia in Denmark and supports the conclusion that an error of greater than 100-fold exists in the currently accepted risk factors.


[1] Darby S.C., Olsen J.H., Doll R., Thakrah B., de Nully Brown P., Storm H.H., Barlow L., Langmark F., Teppo L., Tulinius H. Trends in Childhood Leukaemia in the Nordic Countries in Relation to Fallout from Nuclear Weapon Testing. Bristish Medical Journal 1992; 304:1005-9.