TABLE 13-1 Committee’s Preferred Estimates of the Lifetime Attributable Risk of Incidence and Mortality for All Solid Cancers and for Leukemia


All Solid Cancer






Excess cases (including nonfatal cases) from exposure to 0.1 Gy

800 (400, 1600)

1300 (690, 2500)

100 (30, 300)

70 (20, 250)

Number of cases in the absence of exposure





Excess deaths from exposure to 0.1 Gy

410 (200, 830)

610 (300, 1200)

70 (20, 220)

50 (10, 190)

Number of deaths in the absence of exposure





NOTE: Number of cases or deaths per 100,000 exposed persons.

lar to that of the entire U.S. population were each exposed to 0.1 Gy; also shown are the numbers that would be expected in the absence of exposure. Results are shown for all solid cancers and for leukemia. The estimates are accompanied by 95% subjective confidence intervals that reflect the most important uncertainty sources—namely, statistical variation, uncertainty in the factor used to adjust risk estimates for exposure at low doses and low dose rates, and uncertainty in the method of transport. Additional sources of uncertainty would increase the width of these intervals. Mortality estimates are reasonably compatible with those in previous risk assessments, particularly if uncertainties are considered.

The committee also presents estimates for each of several specific cancer sites and for other exposure scenarios, although they are not shown here. For many cancer sites, uncertainty is very large, with subjective 95% confidence intervals covering more than an order of magnitude.

In general the magnitude of estimated risks for total cancer mortality or leukemia has not changed greatly from estimates provided in past reports such as BEIR V, those of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, and those of the International Commission on Radiological Protection. New data and analyses have reduced sampling uncertainty, but uncertainties related to estimating risk for exposure at low doses and low dose rates and to transporting risks from Japanese A-bomb survivors to the U.S. population remain large. Uncertainties in estimating risks of site-specific cancers are especially large.

Research Need 11. Japanese atomic-bomb survivor studies

The LSS cohort of Japanese A-bomb survivors has played a central role in BEIR VII and past risk assessments. It is thus important that follow-up for mortality and cancer incidence continue for the 45% of the cohort who remained alive at the end of 2000.

In the near future, an uncertainty evaluation of the DS02 dosimetry system is expected to become available. Dose-response analyses that make use of this evaluation should thus be conducted to account for dosimetry uncertainties.

Development and application of analytic methods that allow more reliable site-specific estimates are also needed. Specifically, methods that draw on both data for the specific site and data on broader cancer categories could be useful.

Research Need 12. Epidemiologic studies in general

Data from the LSS should be supplemented with data on populations exposed to low doses and/or low dose rates, especially those with large enough doses to allow risks to be estimated with reasonable precision. Studies of nuclear industry workers and careful studies of persons exposed in countries of the former Soviet Union are particularly important in this regard.

Studies in non-Japanese populations are also important, especially for estimating risks of cancers in organs where baseline risks vary widely. Studies that elucidate the relationship of radiation and other risk factors (for example, smoking) are needed, possibly by conducting nested case-control studies within cohorts currently under study.

Combined analyses of data from several cohorts have been used successfully in the past and are encouraged to provide a unified treatment of data from the LSS and other studies.

Development and application of analytic methods that take account of dosimetry uncertainties are encouraged for all studies. For the LSS, analyses that make use of the uncertainty evaluation of the DS02 dosimetry system, which is expected to become available in the near future, are needed.


The committee concludes that the current scientific evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that there is a linear, no-threshold dose-response relationship between exposure to ionizing radiation and the development of cancer in humans.

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