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Swiss researchers have determined that children who grow up near nuclear plants are not more likely to develop leukemia or other kinds of cancer.
The Switzerlands Social and Preventive Medicine institute (IMSP) published the results this week of a three-year study of children. Their findings, that nuclear plants do not put children at risk, contradict a German study published in 2007. The German report concluded that growing up near a nuclear plant could be hazardous to childrens health.
According to IMSP director Matthias Egger, the risk of contracting cancer is about the same for children who live close to a nuclear plant as it is for children who live far away from one. But he also admits that considering the very small number of cancer cases [considered in the study], there is a high statistical uncertainty.
The IMSP researchers looked at 573 cases of child leukemia. Of those, eight children lived within five kilometers of a nuclear plant.
The Swiss League against Cancer (LSC), which ordered the study together with the Federal Office for Public Health (OFSP), also qualifies these results. This is not the proof that nuclear plants are not harmful, the LSC said, adding that the cancer-producing effect of radioactive radiation is unquestionable.
Nuclear energy has been challenged all across Europe in recent months. Germany has already pledged to close all its nuclear plants over the next 20 years, while France and the UK still defend their investment in nuclear power.
Matthias Egger stated that the aim of this study was not political. In Switzerland, Federal elections will take place within three months, making the issue of nuclear energy particularly sensitive.
Read the full original article in French by Bernard Wuthrich
Photo - Jayson Shenk