Among 1713 atomic bomb survivors who underwent ophthalmological examinations from 1963-1964, the risk of cataract formation per unit dose of radiation was significantly greater for those who reported hair loss of 67% or more after exposure (the epilation group) than for those who reported less or no hair loss (the no-epilation group) (P < 0.01). Such an epilation effect has also been associated with leukemia mortality and the frequency of chromosome aberrations. Although this might be interpreted as indicating differential sensitivity to radiation between the epilation group and the no-epilation group, it could also be explained by imprecision in dose estimates. We have calculated that a 48% random error in DS86 dose estimates could be in accordance with the dose-response relationship for the prevalence of cataracts in the epilation group or the no-epilation group. Possible mechanisms for variation in radiosensitivity are discussed.

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