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Are passive smoking, air pollution and obesity a greater mortality risk than major radiation incidents?

Smith JT - BMC Public Health (2007)

Bottom Line: The mortality risk to populations exposed to radiation from the Chernobyl accident may be no higher than that for other more common risk factors such as air pollution or passive smoking.Radiation exposures experienced by the most exposed group of survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki led to an average loss of life expectancy significantly lower than that caused by severe obesity or active smoking.Population-averaged risks from exposures following major radiation incidents are clearly significant, but may be no greater than those from other much more common environmental and lifestyle factors.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Winfrith Technology Centre, Dorchester, Dorset, UK. Jts@ceh.ac.uk

ABSTRACT

Background: Following a nuclear incident, the communication and perception of radiation risk becomes a (perhaps the) major public health issue. In response to such incidents it is therefore crucial to communicate radiation health risks in the context of other more common environmental and lifestyle risk factors. This study compares the risk of mortality from past radiation exposures (to people who survived the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs and those exposed after the Chernobyl accident) with risks arising from air pollution, obesity and passive and active smoking.

Methods: A comparative assessment of mortality risks from ionising radiation was carried out by estimating radiation risks for realistic exposure scenarios and assessing those risks in comparison with risks from air pollution, obesity and passive and active smoking.

Results: The mortality risk to populations exposed to radiation from the Chernobyl accident may be no higher than that for other more common risk factors such as air pollution or passive smoking. Radiation exposures experienced by the most exposed group of survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki led to an average loss of life expectancy significantly lower than that caused by severe obesity or active smoking.

Conclusion: Population-averaged risks from exposures following major radiation incidents are clearly significant, but may be no greater than those from other much more common environmental and lifestyle factors. This comparative analysis, whilst highlighting inevitable uncertainties in risk quantification and comparison, helps place the potential consequences of radiation exposures in the context of other public health risks.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Illustration of mortality risk vs Body Mass Index. Relative risk of mortality vs Body Mass Index in white, non-smoking, men and women (from data in ref. [4]). Error bars show the 95% CI in relative risk.
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Figure 2: Illustration of mortality risk vs Body Mass Index. Relative risk of mortality vs Body Mass Index in white, non-smoking, men and women (from data in ref. [4]). Error bars show the 95% CI in relative risk.

Mentions: A study of more than 1 million US adults [4] analysed the relationship between BMI and mortality in a 300,000 person sub-group of non-smokers. The study adjusted for other potential risk factors such as level of education and physical activity. Whilst noting some remaining uncertainties [4], the study of this sub-group showed a clear relationship between BMI and all-cause mortality, and mortality from both cardiovascular disease and cancer (Figure 2). Fontaine and coworkers [26] used data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys to determine years of life lost (YOLL) due to overweight and obesity in comparison with a reference BMI of 24.


Are passive smoking, air pollution and obesity a greater mortality risk than major radiation incidents?

Smith JT - BMC Public Health (2007)

Illustration of mortality risk vs Body Mass Index. Relative risk of mortality vs Body Mass Index in white, non-smoking, men and women (from data in ref. [4]). Error bars show the 95% CI in relative risk.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC1851009&req=5

Figure 2: Illustration of mortality risk vs Body Mass Index. Relative risk of mortality vs Body Mass Index in white, non-smoking, men and women (from data in ref. [4]). Error bars show the 95% CI in relative risk.
Mentions: A study of more than 1 million US adults [4] analysed the relationship between BMI and mortality in a 300,000 person sub-group of non-smokers. The study adjusted for other potential risk factors such as level of education and physical activity. Whilst noting some remaining uncertainties [4], the study of this sub-group showed a clear relationship between BMI and all-cause mortality, and mortality from both cardiovascular disease and cancer (Figure 2). Fontaine and coworkers [26] used data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys to determine years of life lost (YOLL) due to overweight and obesity in comparison with a reference BMI of 24.

Bottom Line: The mortality risk to populations exposed to radiation from the Chernobyl accident may be no higher than that for other more common risk factors such as air pollution or passive smoking.Radiation exposures experienced by the most exposed group of survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki led to an average loss of life expectancy significantly lower than that caused by severe obesity or active smoking.Population-averaged risks from exposures following major radiation incidents are clearly significant, but may be no greater than those from other much more common environmental and lifestyle factors.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Winfrith Technology Centre, Dorchester, Dorset, UK. Jts@ceh.ac.uk

ABSTRACT

Background: Following a nuclear incident, the communication and perception of radiation risk becomes a (perhaps the) major public health issue. In response to such incidents it is therefore crucial to communicate radiation health risks in the context of other more common environmental and lifestyle risk factors. This study compares the risk of mortality from past radiation exposures (to people who survived the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs and those exposed after the Chernobyl accident) with risks arising from air pollution, obesity and passive and active smoking.

Methods: A comparative assessment of mortality risks from ionising radiation was carried out by estimating radiation risks for realistic exposure scenarios and assessing those risks in comparison with risks from air pollution, obesity and passive and active smoking.

Results: The mortality risk to populations exposed to radiation from the Chernobyl accident may be no higher than that for other more common risk factors such as air pollution or passive smoking. Radiation exposures experienced by the most exposed group of survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki led to an average loss of life expectancy significantly lower than that caused by severe obesity or active smoking.

Conclusion: Population-averaged risks from exposures following major radiation incidents are clearly significant, but may be no greater than those from other much more common environmental and lifestyle factors. This comparative analysis, whilst highlighting inevitable uncertainties in risk quantification and comparison, helps place the potential consequences of radiation exposures in the context of other public health risks.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus