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Incidence of Thyroid Cancer in Belarus

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Incidence of Thyroid Cancer in Belarus Rebecca Newiss Biology Coursework 11O2 Belarus is a region just north of the Ukraine in an area that was previously part of the Soviet Union. In 1986 the nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl suffered a serious incident involving a fire and the release of significant amounts of radioactivity. The Gomel region lies immediately to the north of Chernobyl and is known to have received a high level of radioactivity as fallout after the breakdown of the reactor on 26th April 1986. The plume passed first over the Gomel region in the first few hours after a major release of radioactivity, and then over the Brest and Grodno regions. The fall out contained large amounts of iodine - 131. The 'cloud' of radioactivity then moved west over Northern Europe and eventually the U.K. The incidence of thyroid cancers has been monitored in many of town s in Belarus that the town passed over. Here were their findings. Town Years 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992* Total Brest 0 0 1 1 6 5 5 18 Vitebask 0 0 0 0 1 3 0 4 Gomel 1 2 1 2 14 38 13 71 Minsk 0 0 1 0 5 2 1 9 Mozyr 0 1 2 1 12 30 12 58 Mogilev 0 0 0 0 2 1 1 4 Zlobin 0 1 1 2 11 24 9 48 Bobrusk 0 0 0 3 5 13 6 27 * ...read more.


The number of cancers the town had was fifty eight, in comparison to the distance from the town this number was too low as the town Gomel, which was 30km more away from the incident site had seventy one cancers. I know that the number of cancers for Gomel is correct as it follows the line of best fit and also ties in with all the other results. Mozyr should have had around 90 cancers not fifty-eight. The second anomalous result was the town Mogilev; this had 4 cancers and was 287km away from Chernobyl, this result is also falls far away from the fine of best fit and is too low as the number of cancers should be much higher, around 17. The third and final anomalous result is for the town of Brest; this particular result shows that the number of cancers here is much too high for the distance it is away from Chernobyl, the result should have been around 3 or 4, instead it was a massive 17. I feel that these three particular points do not fit the pattern because of a number of issues, firstly the weather. The wind I feel could have been blowing in a direction that favored particular towns more so than others, this idea could explain why the town of Brest had such a high number of cancers, the wind could have been blowing in a westerly direction. ...read more.


To further the evidence collected that the children have got the cancer due to the Chernobyl accident I could look at their DNA for mutations. Mutations are changes in the DNA structure and are caused when individuals are exposed to mutagenic agents; an example of these is radioactive substances. We already know that the accident at Chernobyl released radioactive substances into the atmosphere that were then breathed in by the people in surrounding towns, I also know that if I greater the dose of radioactivity the greater the risk. This theory would then explain why towns closer to Chernobyl had a higher number of cancers. By looking at the structure of a DNA molecule I would know ones that had been subject to mutation would have resulted in a new form of gene, the ones that were not subjected to mutation would have the original genes. These changes can then be passed onto 'daughter' cells as a result of cell division, in other words the organization of part of the DNA molecule would be disturbed, which would result in the cell producing different sequences of amino acids and therefore proteins. Therefore, we can compare the proteins in the people who have thought to have been subjected to radioactivity and those who have thought not, if the proteins are different then we know that it is the radioactivity that has caused this, therefore the authorities should accept responsibility. 1 Rebecca Newiss ...read more.

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