A recent study by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) says that that the incidence of cancer among nuclear power plant workers is considerably less than that among the general public.
In the past 16 years, 80 workers at the 20 nuclear power plants across India were diagnosed with cancer, according to a recent study by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL).
The incidence of cancer among nuclear power plant workers is nearly half of the national prevalence rate of the disease, said Dr R Deolalikar, certifying surgeon, NPCIL who conducted the research. “With the recent apprehensions among the public about nuclear power plants, we have taken initiative to share information about radiation. Our study shows that the workmen working closest to the nuclear plants, who are subject to higher radiation in the course of their duty, have a lower incidence of cancer compared to general public,” said G Nageshwar Rao, director (operations), NPCIL.
In 2010, NPCIL had a total of 6,859 employees. According to the study, which extrapolated the data, the average incidence rate of cancer among NPCIL employees is 54.05 per lakh of population while the national cancer incidence rate is 98.5 per per lakh of population. The average death rate due to cancer among NPCIL employees is 29.05 per lakh of population while that of the general public is 68 per lakh of population.
Of the 80 cancer patients, 43 did not survive. “In some cancer cases that resulted in death of NPCIL workers, cancer was not even the immediate cause of death,” said Dr Deolalikar at a press conference on Thursday.
The study found that there was no significant difference in the number of cases of cancer among NPCIL workers who work close to the radioactive sites and others who work out of the realm of radioactive sites such as canteen boys. In the past 16 years, of the 80 cancer patients among NPCIL employees, 41 employees worked close to radiation sites.
The study was conducted between 1995 and 2010 among NPCIL employees and compared national rate of incidence of cancer sourced from Globocan, an international agency for research on cancer that estimates incidence, mortality and prevalence of cancer for 184 countries.
Dr Rajendra Badwe, medical director, Tata Memorial Hospital, said there is evidence showing that radiation beyond limits is detrimental. But radiation in moderation isn’t harmful, he added. The NPCIL study also found the rate of other diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, among NPCIL employees was lower than the national rate.