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BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 09 March 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:597
  1. Alison Tonks (
  1. associate editor

    Atomic bombs leave a long legacy of benign as well as malignant thyroid disease

    Sixty years after atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, researchers are still studying the effects of radiation exposure on the local population. In the latest cross sectional study of survivors, over half the women (1397/2739, 51%) and nearly a third of the men (436/1352, 32%) had thyroid disease, and 15% of the whole cohort had solid nodules, 2% had cancers (mostly papillary), and 8% had benign cysts.

    Credit: JAMA

    Using sophisticated techniques to measure radiation exposure and equallysophisticated techniques to look for thyroid disease, the researchers found a clear link between radiation dose and the prevalence of all thyroid nodules. They estimated that 37% of cancers, 31% of benign nodules, and 25% of thyroid cysts in this elderly cohort were caused directly by radiation from the two bombs. Survivors aged under 10 at the time seemed most vulnerable, presumably because their thyroid glands were more radiosensitive than those of young adults.

    The researchers found no dose-response relation between radiation dose and autoimmune thyroid disease, however, which tips the weight of evidence against a causal link between the two.

    New vaccine protects young children against otitis media

    European scientists have developed a new vaccine that seems to protect young children against otitis media. The vaccine contains antigenic material from 11 different serotypes of Streptococcus pneumoniae, each one carried by a protein derived from Haemophilus influenzae. Between them, these pathogens are the most important causal agents of otitis media in young children.

    In a randomised trial, the new vaccine reduced by about a third the overall incidence of otitis media among children under 2 years in the Czech Republic and Slovakia (333/2455, 14% v 499/2452, 20%). The 2455 vaccinated children were 57.6% (95% CI 41.4 to 69.3) less likely to develop otitis media caused by S pneumoniae and 35.3% (1.8% to 57.4%) less likely to develop otitis …

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