Three Mile Island Link to Thyroid Cancer?

Health effects from exposure to low dose radiation are always difficult to assess.  It has long been assumed that there is no “smoking gun” to link a particular health issue to causation when dealing with the random effects of radiation exposure (especially when there are many other environmental and genetic factors to consider).  Looking at a single type of health effect that can occur from radiation exposure, Thyroid Cancer (TC), researchers at Penn State University have postulated that Radiation-induced Thyroid Cancers “have a lower incidence of single nucleotide oncogenic driver mutations and higher incidence of gene fusions.”  They went on to employ NGS (next generation sequencing techniques) to “identify molecular signatures of radiation-induced TC in a cohort of TC patients residing near TMI during the time of the accident.”  This study was announced on the PSU website and was covered in this USA Today article.  The scientific paper was published in The Laryngoscope, the Journal of The American Laryngological, Rhinological and Otological Society, Inc.  The results of this study, which show a possible link between the TMI accident and later TC, will certainly inspire discussion and debate.  Hopefully over time our understanding of the role of ionizing radiation exposure in human health will become better understood.

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