In this issue, Alex Perry describes how researchers from all over the world are investigating the health consequences of exposure to ionising radiation.
He briefly summarises the studies by scientists of different groups of people who are known to have been exposed to radiation. These populations include the survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and their descendants, people affected by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident and American nuclear test veterans. Our aim in summarising these studies is to highlight their relevance for British nuclear test veterans and their families and to show how they relate to some of CHRC’s ongoing research.
We know that many of you are keen to hear about our progress with the Genetic and Cytogenetic Study. Invitations continue to be forwarded by various GPs so please do respond if you receive one. However, we are pleased to let you know that have reached an important milestone in our recruitment target for nuclear test veteran couples. Although there remains a lengthy process in progressing each family member through the formal consent process, we can say we are nearing completion of this stage of the study. Our laboratories also continue to be busy with the receipt, processing and analysis of all of the blood samples donated by those who are participating in the study. This continues to be a big effort with a lot of in-depth analysis underway and this work will continue over the next year. We thank everyone who is taking part in this study.
As ever, it is important to remind everyone that we have no way of knowing what the results will show. If any evidence of genetic change in veterans of nuclear weapons testing and their children is found, when compared to family groups not associated with nuclear testing, further research would be required to assess the meaning and possible health impacts of this.
We would also like to take the opportunity to update you on the other studies where members of your community are volunteering.
George Collett, who is investigating the relationships between exposure worry and cognitive functions, has to date conducted 60 cognitive tests over the telephone. George will invite an additional 20 veterans to take part in these tests by the end of August. These veterans have already taken part in earlier research with George and have agreed to be contacted for follow-up studies. He will analyse the data from these tests to assess whether exposure worry affects cognitive functions such as memory and reasoning.
Amy Prescott, who is investigating the relationships between sport, culture and wellbeing, has conducted 13 face-to-face interviews over a 4-week period in the South of England. Telephone interviews are currently being conducted and are due to be completed by the end of August. Some of the participants will be invited for follow-up phone calls in September to clarify topics discussed in their interviews. Amy will be in touch directly with those involved.
Both George and Amy would like to thank all of the veterans who have given their time to these studies and greatly appreciate their contributions.
We will continue to keep you updated on the progress of these studies but in the meantime, we hope you are all enjoying the summer.