Epidemiological evidence for a radiation effect on prostate cancer risk has been inconsistent and largely indicative of no or little effect. Here we studied prostate cancer incidence among males of the Life Span Study cohort of atomic bomb survivors in a follow-up from 1958 to 2009, eleven years more than was previously reported. During this period there were 851 incident cases of prostate cancer among 41,544 male subjects, doubling the total number of cases in the cohort. More than 50% of the cases were diagnosed among those who were less than 20 years of age at the time of the bombings and who were at, or near, the ages of heightened prostate cancer risks during the last decade of follow-up. In analyses of the radiation dose response using Poisson regression methods, we used a baseline-rate model that allowed for calendar period effects corresponding to the emergence of prostate-specific antigen screening in the general population as well as effects of attained age and birth cohort. The model also allowed for markedly increased baseline rates among the Adult Health Study participants between 2005 and 2009, a period during which a prostate-specific antigen test was included in Adult Health Study biennial health examinations. We found a significant linear dose response with an estimated excess relative risk (ERR) per Gy of 0.57 (95% CI: 0.21, 1.00, P = 0.001). An estimated 40 of the observed cases were attributed to radiation exposure from the bombings. There was a suggestion of the ERR decreasing with increasing age at exposure (P = 0.09). We found no indication of effects of smoking, alcohol consumption and body mass index on the baseline risk of prostate cancer. The observed dose response strengthens the evidence of a radiation effect on the risk of prostate cancer incidence in the atomic bomb survivors.
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Vol. 195 • No. 1