Chernobyl: Terrifyingly simple way children 'got thyroid cancer' after disaster

It is conclusive that around 5,000 cases of thyroid cancer in the area were caused by the contamination, according to the BBC. The main victim of these cancers were children. It is believed that this is in part due to a failure of the authorities to prevent contaminated milk form being sold in the region.

Many who drank the milk were children and so they were receiving large doses of radioactive iodine.

Radioactive iodine was one of the contaminants blasted out of Reactor 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in northern Ukraine.

A World Health Organisation report read: “Doses to the thyroid received in the first few months after the accident were particularly high in those children and adolescents living in the most affected regions, who drank milk contaminated with radioactive iodine.

“This subpopulation has since been followed-up through national Chernobyl registries for increased risk of thyroid cancer.

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“The 2006 WHO report anticipated that thyroid cancer incidence due to the Chernobyl accident would continue to increase over time.”

Iodine-131 has a half-life of eight days and has a known link to thyroid problems.

The half-life is the time it takes for one half of the radioactive elements to disintegrate.

Iodine-131 was released into the air after the Chernobyl disaster and got into the human body through breathing it in, eating contaminated leafy vegetables or drinking contaminated milk.

The milk was contaminated due to cows and goats grazing on contaminated grass.

Due to its intake, a third of all the radioactive iodine in the body will end up in the thyroid gland.

As the iodine decays, it emits radiation and affects the thyroid and nearby tissue.

This destroys thyroid cells, as well as surrounding capillaries which interferes with the blood supply, depriving the gland of oxygen and nutrients.

The dying cells produce molecules triggering inflammation, which attracts immune cells to the thyroid to destroy the dead cells.

Among these are TPO and Tg protein sequences that the antibodies remember and henceforth attack as an enemy, causing cancer or other autoimmune issues.

After the catastrophe at Chernobyl, iodine-131 was released in high doses from the reactor for about 40 days and it took about seven months for it to decay to a safe level.

Those in affected areas showed higher levels of TPO and Tg antibodies in their bodies, but children who drank contaminated milk seemed to be most affected.

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