Sellafield Study “Hides Cancer Increases”

Still Fighting for Gemma
Still Fighting for Gemma – a film was made of this true story.. the only known cause of childhood leukemia is….. man made radiation.


Sellafield Study “Hides Cancer Increases”


It seems the study commissioned by our pro-nuclear government is not all

it cracks up to be.


The study funded by the Department of Health and published by the British

Journal of Cancer found no difference in cancer incidence from 1991 -2006

between those living near Sellafield (and Dounreay) and the larger

population. The report magnanimously acknowledges that there was

increased incidence of leukaemia before 1991 but infers that Sellafield

has since cleaned up its act (despite its continuing crash programme of

reprocessing) to such an extent that the Sellafield area is now entirely

safe for young families.


The reassuring report has been dealt a blow by criticism from leading scientists.


Dr Ian Fairlie is a leading independent scientist and consultant on

radioactivity in the environment. He has collaborated with leading German

scientist Dr Korblein to analyse the new

report. Dr Fairlie comments that the report commissioned by the

Department of Health and reassuring those living near Sellafield and

Dounreay, should never have been published. He goes on to say it is

“misleading” as “over all cancers and all years, the observed cancer

increases in fact were highly statistically significant”




More Information on Dr Ian Fairlie’s website


The full text is here:


Comments on another BJC article

Posted on July 25, 2014

In 2013, the British Journal of Cancer published an article (Bithell et

al, 2013) (for references see below) purporting to show there were no

leukemia increases in young children near UK nuclear power plants (NPPs).

I published a post criticising this article stating that it should not

have been published. The BJC has now printed a similar article (Bunch et

al, 2014) which, if anything, is even worse than the 2013 one. The new

article also should never have been published.


The new report concludes, first, that children, teenagers and young adults

currently living close to Sellafield and Dounreay are not at an increased

risk of developing cancer. Second, it concludes there is no evidence of

any increased cancer risk later in life among those resident in these

areas at birth.


However a close reading of the actual data in the reportís table 3 in fact

reveals statistically significant cancer increases measured across all

years and ages. The data layout in their table 3 carefully hides these

increases so the data are more clearly laid out below (for Seascale ward),

together with p values kindly added by Dr Alfred Kˆrblein.


The very low p values in Seascale ward show that the cancer increases

there are statistically significant, ie are not due to chance. It is

notable that these increases and their accompanying p values are NOT

discussed in the new report.


Total leukaemias (0-24 y)


Obs       Exp       SIR       P value*            RR       P value**

study region       6          0.91      6.59      0.0004

control region     68         76.33    0.89      0.8442   7.40      0.0002

All malignancies (0-24 y)


Obs       Exp       SIR       P value*            RR       P value**

study region       12         3.66      3.28      0.0004

control region     321       322.27   1.00      0.5356   3.29      0.0005

Obs= observed, Exp= expected, SIR= standardised incidence ratio, RR=

relative risk


*one-sided P value (Poisson test), **one-sided P value (Binomial test)

both calculated by Dr Alfred Kˆrblein


So, at Seascale, the leukemia risk is 7.4-times greater than the control

area (RR=7.4, P=0.0002), and for all malignancies, the risk is 3.3 times

greater than the control area (RR= 3.3, P=0.0005).


The new article should therefore have reported that statistically

significant cancer increases occurred across all ages and cancers in

Seascale, about 4 km from Sellafield. Instead, the printed conclusions

refrain from this and make misleading inferences in selected analyses

which appear to show the opposite. This is poor science.


Let’s unpack that first conclusion that children, teenagers and young

adults currently living near Sellafield are not at an increased risk of

developing cancer. This is presumably based on the most recent data

(1991-2006) which show 1 observed case (0-14 yr olds) and 1 observed case

(15-24 yr olds). In fact, these are increases over the expected numbers,

but you can’t say anything definite one way or the other as the numbers

are far too small for meaningful conclusions. Also these data are now

eight years old: can we really say that young people currently living near

Sellafield are not running risks?


Let’s unpack the second conclusion that ìthere is no evidence of any

increased cancer risk later in life among those resident in these areas at

birthî. This is presumably based on the data for those aged 15-24, but in

fact, these again show actual increases (Observed 4, Expected 1.43 for all

cases). Again you canít be definite from such small numbers as the

increases are still not statistically significant, but to say there was no

increased risk when in fact the numbers show the opposite is perverse and


Given the lack of statistical power in their chosen analyses and given the

fact that increases were actually found, the report should not have

concluded that people were not at risk. Instead it should have reported

the cancer increases but added that the results of its chosen analyses

were not statistically significant as they were underpowered. However, it

should also have added that, over all cancers and all years, the observed

cancer increases in fact were highly statistically significant.


There is a second major flaw in this study. Leukemia incidences vary a

great deal depending on age at detection. Grouping babies and infants

with other ages may mask increases among them, as any increase could be

diluted by the numbers at older ages. This problem is well known and itís

for this reason that almost all studies in this area have focussed on

under 5 year olds. This study should have done the same: it didn’t.


Another problem is that the leukemia data from 1963 to 1990 at Seascale

only shows 5 cases. But the famous study by Gardner et al (1990) revealed

10 such cases. Where have the other 5 cases gone? Were they all detected

before 1963?


Fourth, the study refrains from discussing the huge amount of evidence

world-wide on childhood leukemias near NPPs as discussed by myself

(Fairlie, 2013) and many others. It hardly mentions the important German

KiKK study (Kaatsch et al, 2008) and ignores the meta-analysis of four

European studies by Korblein and Fairlie (2012) which conclusively showed

increased leukemia risks among under fives, living within five km of

almost all NPPs in France, Germany, Switzerland and the UK.


In sum, like the similar study of leukemias the BJC published in 2013,

this study should also not have been published as it is misleading and

contains no scientifically useful information.


(PS This post concentrates on Sellafield but similar considerations and

criticisms apply to the Dounreay data.)


I wish to thank Dr Korblein for his invaluable help in writing this post.




Bithell JF, M F G Murphy, C A Stiller, E Toumpakari, T Vincent and R

Wakeford. (2013) Leukaemia in young children in the vicinity of British

nuclear power plants: a caseñcontrol study. Br J Cancer. advance online

publication, September 12, 2013; doi:10.1038/bjc.2013.560.


Bunch KJ, T J Vincent1, R J Black, M S Pearce, R J Q McNally, P A

McKinney, L Parker, A W Craft and M F G Murphy (2014) Updated

investigations of cancer excesses in individuals born or resident in the

vicinity of Sellafield and Dounreay. British Journal of Cancer (2014),

1ñ10 | doi: 10.1038/bjc.2014.357


Fairlie I (2013) A hypothesis to explain childhood cancers near nuclear

power plants. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity 133 (2014) 10e17


Gardner MJ, Snee MP; Hall AJ; Powell CA; Downes S; Terrell JD (1990)

Results of case-control study of leukaemia and lymphoma among young people

near Sellafield nuclear plant in West Cumbria. BMJ. 1990;300:423ñ429.


Kaatsch P, Spix C, Schulze-Rath R, Schmiedel S, Blettner M. (2008)

Leukaemia in young children living in the vicinity of German nuclear power

plants. Int J Cancer; 122: 721-726.


Korblein A and Fairlie I (2012) French Geocap study confirms increased

leukemia risks in young children near nuclear power plants. Int J Cancer

131: 2970ñ2971.


6 thoughts on “Sellafield Study “Hides Cancer Increases”

  1. Recently found this research showing that ionizing radiation can make leukemia spread too! It is mostly Portuguese research. They have no Nuclear Reactors. But, there was still apparently an agenda to use ionizing radiation for the good in radiology. However, the evidence that the researcher (s) found showed instead how it makes pre-existing cancer grow and spread! Soon people need to consider tax strikes, as some religious groups have done in the past about militarism and nuclear weapons. The US tax payer is funding research (Pacific Nuclear Lab) for irradiating mice to change colors and researchers say the mice are healthier! They have been irradiating and mutating mice in the US for almost 70 years now! The earlier researchers, in Tennessee, got in trouble for saying that pregnant women shouldn’t be x-rayed. They have been arguing about these things for almost a century. It’s ridiculous. X -rays and radium were known to be bad even before the nuclear age. What is wrong with people?! If it’s shown to be bad for almost 100 years it can’t suddenly be good! Yet they waste tax payer money to try to prove it’s not so bad or even good.

    It’s ridiculous that people must pay taxes and then volunteer or donate money to debunk the trash published by their own governments with their own money.

    I love Dr. Fairlie more by the second! Do you know if he minds if people repost his articles?

  2. Jo M Brown

    It’s also misleading just to look at cancer risk. Perinatal mortality reduces the number of children born with birth defects. Infants whose auto-immune systems will have been compromised develop many illnesses to which they are pre-disposed. Infants undergoing surgery often die unexpectedly due to their asymptomatic cardiac problems caused by exposure to Caesium 137. We’re seeing all of this in Somerset communities exposed to radiation from the Hinkley Point nuclear site which has a tenfold increase in Caesium 137 since 2006 when waste and decommissioning increased all the air pollution routinely discharged from the site. Also in 2006, vents were installed directly into the reactor cores of the two defueled Magnox reactors which resulted in a doubling of perinatal mortality in the next few years.

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