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Chernobyl did not lead to thyroid cancer

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PARIS, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- A study presented to a European conference in Paris Tuesday finds no association between radiation exposure and papillary thyroid cancer in children.

The study presented to the 13th European Cancer Conference was based on data involving children and teenagers who were exposed to radiation when a reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine melted down in 1986.

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The study, by the South West Wales Cancer Institute, compared genetic mutations found in 52 childhood thyroid cancer sufferers born before and after the accident and divided the victims into four groups based on age, sex and place of residence.

Molecular biology studies found no difference with respect to type or overall frequency of a particular genetic mutation, known as ret rearrangement, between any of the groups -- despite the fact that ret rearrangement had been thought to be a potential marker of radiation exposure.

The study found no association between ret rearrangement and radiation exposure. Rather, researchers said the real link between the patterns of molecular biological alterations observed post-Chernobyl in thyroid cancer might actually be related to the age of the patients under study, rather than radioiodine exposure.

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Only one child out of the 52 studied had a specific gene mutation, known as BRAF, which is typically present at higher levels in adult thyroid cancer sufferers. In contrast, 58 percent of adult thyroid cancer patients in the Ukraine show this mutation.

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