For 63 years scientists in the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission and its successor, the Radiation Effects Research Foundation, have been assessing the long-term health effects in the survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and in their children. The identification and follow-up of a large population (approximately a total of 200 000, of whom more than 40% are alive today) that includes a broad range of ages and radiation exposure doses, and healthy representatives of both sexes; establishment of well-defined cohorts whose members have been studied longitudinally, including some with biennial health examinations and a high survivor-participation rate; and careful reconstructions of individual radiation doses have resulted in reliable excess relative risk estimates for radiation-related health effects, including cancer and noncancer effects in humans, for the benefit of the survivors and for all humankind. This article reviews those risk estimates and summarizes what has been learned from this historic and unique study.
(Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2011;5:S122-S133)