Study on chromosomal damage in lymphocytes from namibian uranium mineworkers (1996, en)

Analysis of lymphocytes from uranium mineworkers in Namibia for chromosomal damage using Fluorescence in situ Hybridization (FISH)

Reinhard Zaire(a), Carol S. Griffin (b), Corresponding Author Contact Information, Paul J. Simpson (b), David G. Papworth (b), John R. K. Savage (b), Sue Armstrong (c) and Maj A. Hultènc


Workers in the open pit uranium mine in Namibia appear to suffer from health problems including malignant diseases at a much higher prevalence when compared with the general population. The objective of the present study was to determine whether long-term exposure to low-dose uranium increases the risk of biological radiation damage which could lead to malignant diseases. In order to investigate this risk, we measured the relative frequency of chromosome alterations using Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). A representative cohort of 11 non-smoking miners, were compared to a control group of 9 individuals with no occupational history in mining. We determined a significant increase in chromosome aberrations in the circulating lymphocytes of miners versus the non-smoking controls (p = 0.0000096). Therefore, we concluded that these uranium exposed miners are at an increased risk to acquire genetic damage, which may be associated with an increased risk for malignant transformation.

(a) Department of Hematology and Oncology and Institute of Nuclear Medicine, University Medical Center Benjamin Franklin, Free University Berlin, Hindenburgdamm 30, 12200, Berlin, Germany

(b) Radiation and Genome Stability Unit, MRC, Harwell, UK

(c) LFS Research Unit, Regional Genetic Services, Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham, UK

Received 12 June 1996; revised 23 August 1996; accepted 23 August 1996.
Available online 4 October 2002.