The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) has challenged a new study which claims that children living near nuclear power plants in the UK do not have an increased risk of developing leukaemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The Bithell et al study for the British Journal of Cancer identified 10 cases of children under five near nuclear power stations who had been diagnosed with leukaemia or similar cancers. CND Council Member Dr Ian Fairlie, an independent consultant on radioactivity in the environment, believes there are problems with the new study. He has contacted the author of the study to answer his concerns on many methodological issues.

Dr Fairlie commented:

“There is a discrepancy between the study’s observed number of diagnosed cases and the larger number of cases found in a previous major UK government study, which even had a shorter monitoring period. There are several technical points which are problematic.  The authors themselves admit their findings are not statistically significant. Furthermore, the results of the British Journal of Cancer study are inconsistent with the very large number of studies which show the very opposite – that living near nuclear power stations does increase the risk of cancer.

“In particular, the results conflict with the very powerful German KiKK study from 2008, which found increased risks.  Its evidence and that of many other studies pose difficult questions, not least whether the UK government should be rethinking its nuclear policies. This latest study does not do anything to silence these concerns.”

CND General Secretary Kate Hudson commented:

“Nuclear power is not only an expensive form of energy, it is also dangerous and unhealthy. The large majority of over 60 studies world-wide have shown links between living near nuclear power stations and cancer. This latest study is littered with unresolved issues that do nothing to show that the radiation from nuclear power is safe.  Instead of subsidising nuclear energy production, the government should be investing more in safe, clean and affordable renewable energies.”