Childhood cancer risk close to nuclear power plants

A large nationwide longitudinal study found no evidence of an increased risk of cancer in children born near nuclear power plants in Switzerland.

The CANUPIS study was performed by the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM) at the University of Bern (Switzerland) in collaboration with the Swiss Childhood Cancer Registry and the Swiss Paediatric Oncology Group.

Are there any risks to the health of people living close to nuclear power plants?

This question has been debated for over 20 years. Cancer in children, who are more sensitive to radiation than adults, has been a particular concern. A case-control study from Germany published in December 2007 showed that the risk of leukaemia in small children living within 5 km of a nuclear power plant was more than double that of children living further away. These findings caused anxiety in the Swiss population and were the subject of a debate in parliament. As a result, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) and the Swiss Cancer League asked the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM) at the University of Bern to perform a comparable study in Switzerland. The CANUPIS study (Childhood Cancer and Nuclear Power Plants in Switzerland) was conducted from September 2008 to December 2010. The results are published in the «International Journal of Epidemiology».