Endocrine Abstracts (2017) 49 GP86 | DOI: 10.1530/endoabs.49.GP86

Increased incidence of diabetes mellitus 30 years after the radiation impact in persons exposed to ionizing radiation during the Chernobyl NPP accident

Oleksii Kaminskyi, Dmitrii Afanasyev, Olga Kopilova, Irina Chikalova, Irina Muravyova, Olena Tepla, Oleksii Pronin, Irina Kiselova, Natalia Dombrovska & Dimitrii Bazyka


National Research Center for Radiation Medicine of NAMS of Ukraine, Kiev, Ukraine.


Several million people in Ukraine and other countries had been exposed to ionizing radiation during the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident (ChNPPA) on April 26, 1986. The ChNPPA clean-up personnel involved in emergency and recovery works in the 30-kilometer exclusion zone of power plant in the nearest days or months and/or for a long time had received the highest radiation doses due to external gamma-exposure and from incorporated radioactive isotopes with high affinity to endocrine organs, including the thyroid, pancreas, and cerebral endocrine structures. Consequently a dramatic elevation in non-cancer endocrine morbidity emerged due to thyroid disease, pre-diabetes, diabetes mellitus, and obesity. Despite pancreas was previously considered resistant to ionizing radiation the recent research however suggests high sensitivity of endocrine cells, particularly pancreatic beta cells to radiation exposure. It just explains a high prevalence of diabetes mellitus (up to 23%) in the ChNPPA survivors, whilst the respective value for population of Ukraine is much lower, i.e. from 3 to 7% depending on data source. According to retrospective review of endocrine system data from the ChNPPA clean-up workers (n=13,158) the prevalence of pre-diabetes and diabetes mellitus had increased dramatically 10 years upon the accident and continues to increase 30 years later. Now it is in average ~16% and ~12% respectively. At that not only a radiation dose but also the duration of moderately intensive gamma-exposure, namely 0.082±0.01 Gy, is critical for the onset of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Persons involved in recovery operations for more than 4–6 months are of concern here. Survey results in the ChNPPA emergency workers demonstrate an increased incidence of latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA).