(NaturalNews) Children's risk of cancer goes up substantially the closer they live to a nuclear power plant, according to a German government study.
Researchers contracted by the Federal Office for Radiation Protection studied the occurrence of cancer in children under the age of five who were living within five kilometers (three miles) of one of 21 nuclear reactors in 41 districts of the country between the years of 1980 and 2003. A total of 4,735 children without cancer and 1,592 children with cancer were included in the study population.
There were 77 cases of cancer among the children studied, which came out to 60 percent more than the national average for childhood cancer. When only leukemia was examined, the rate was 117 percent higher: 37 cases of leukemia, in contrast to the expected 17.
The chance of contracting cancer went up the closer a child lived to one of the reactors.
The study marked the third on a series being conducted as part of the German Childhood Cancer Registry. But according to the Federal Office for Radiation Protection, the most recent study provided the strongest conclusions.
"For the first time, exact data on the distance of a residence to a reactor could be taken into account in a case-control study," the office said.
According to Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel, the results are puzzling, because the cancer rates are much higher than can be explained by the amount of radiation currently believed to escape from nuclear reactor sites.
"To explain this increased cancer risk, the population would have to be exposed to radiation at least 1,000 times higher than what comes from German nuclear power plants
," he said.
Yet the Federal Office for Radiation Protection said it was not surprised by the results, which are "in line with similar investigations carried out world-wide."