High levels of disease seen in high radiation areas of Iran

Various papers available online claim the the high radiation background levels of radiation in Ramsar, Mazandrain Province, Iran, provide “health benefits” and “radiation-protection to local residents. The radium/radon springs are visited by Iranians from all over the country.

For example:

“Ramsar, a northern coastal city in Iran, has areas with some of the highest levels of natural radiation measured to date. The effective dose equivalents in very high background radiation areas (VHBRAs) of Ramsar in particular in Talesh Mahalleh, are a few times higher than the ICRP-recommended radiation dose limits for radiation workers.”

Biology Division, Kyoto University of Education, Kyoto 612-8522, Japan

The claim is that the high background radiation related to radium and radon gives a “radiation-protective” effect -via “adaptive response” – to residents in the area and to people who visit the radon spas in the area.

It transpires that the affected area is much larger than the town of Rasmar studied by the author.

The following is taken from two medical studies of cancer in Iran: (I have 2 more such studies, and the main piece is turning into a badly written sketch pad)

“The north and north east regions of Iran are

some of the known areas that have a high

incidence of esophageal cancer.

Golestan Province in northeastern Iran is

one of the higher risk areas of the world, followed

by Mazandaran and Khorasan Provinces.”

The cancers of concern in Iran at the present time include:

GI cancers, the incidence rates of which are high in Iran.

Breast cancer affects Iranian women about a decade

earlier than women in Western countries.

Colorectal cancers, having an increasing rate which is currently near that of the West and which is increasingly striking at younger ages.

Other common cancers in Iran are:

Stomach, esophagus,bladder and leukemia in males.

Esophagus, stomach, and cervix uteri in women.


“Five Common Cancers in Iran”

Shadi Kolahdoozan MD MPH*, Alireza Sadjadi MD MPH**, Amir Reza Radmard MD***,

Hooman Khademi MD MPH

(*Digestive Disease Research Center,

Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran,

**Department of Epidemiology, University Medical Center

Groningen, Groningen, The Netherland, ***Department of

Radialogy, Shariati Hospital, Tehran University of Medical

Sciences, Tehran, Iran.)

Archives of Iranian Medicine, Volume 13, Number 2, 2010: 143 – 146.

Cancer Incidence in Five Provinces of Iran

Ardebil, Gilan, Mazandaran, Golestan and Kerman,
1996 – 2000 MAHDI FALLAH.

“Cancer is the most common non-injury cause of death after cardiovascular diseases in Iran. Estimation of the burden of cancer in terms of incidence, mortality, and prevalence is the first step to plan control measures in every country but for almost 40 years there were no population-based cancer statistics in Iran to reveal cancer burden. This study is designed to ascertain the incidence of cancers in Iran, and develop and test a new method to adjust for ascertainment bias in the evaluation of cancer registry data.” Source: Cancer Incidence in Five Provinces of Iran

Ardebil, Gilan, Mazandaran, Golestan and Kerman, 1996 – 2000

MAHDI FALLAH ACADEMIC DISSERTATION, University of Tampere, Tampere School of Public Health Finland, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Digestive Diseases Research Center Iran. Supervised by Professor Anssi Auvinen University of Tampere, Professor Risto Sankila University of Tampere, Reviewed by Professor emerita Aulikki Nissinen University of Kuopio, Professor Elisabete Weiderpass Vainio, Karolinska Institute, Sweden.

“Highest rate of lung cancer found among Mazandaranian men.”

The central national cancer registry was abandoned in 1979 by Iran. It remains intact and available.

In 1984 Iran re-established cancer registries. Each province maintains its own registry. Many of the relevant documents are held in operational departments within local hospitals.

Although Iran has a low cancer incidence compared to developed countries, Iran’s cancer incidence is comparable to other nations with similar levels of development.

“Esophageal cancer: Golestan Province in northeastern Iran is one of the higher risk areas of the world, followed by Mazandaran and Khorasan Provinces.”

Mazandran Province, in which the famous radium and radon spas are located, has the highest incidence of two types of cancer.

The theory that high levels of background radiation in areas of northern Iran provide “radiation resistence” and “health benefits” does not appear to be supported by the facts.

The following sketch map roughly shows the areas defined as having high levels of radionuclide present in soil. It is based on copyright information given in:

“Relationship of soil terrestrial radionuclide concentrations and the excess of lifetime cancer risk in western Mazandaran Province, Iran Radiat Prot Dosimetry”, 1. M. Abbaspour1, F. Moattar2, A. Okhovatian3 and

M. Kharrat Sadeghi2,Radiat Prot Dosimetry (2010) 142(2-4): 265-272 doi:10.1093/rpd/ncq187

(I havent obtained that one yet, I used google images to view a thumbnail of the map)

iran high

(The difficulty in obtaining accurate cancer statistics in Iran may have complicated the study of the claims of health benefit made for this area of Iran.)


1. M. Abbaspour1,
2. F. Moattar2,
3. A. Okhovatian3 and
4. M. Kharrat Sadeghi2,*


The main goal of this study is to lay out the map of the soil radionuclide activity concentrations and the terrestrial outdoor gamma dose rates in the western Mazandaran Province of Iran, and to present an evaluation scheme. Mazandaran Province was selected due to its special geographical characteristics, high population density and the long terrestrial and aquatic borders with the neighbouring countries possessing nuclear facilities. A total of 54 topsoil samples were collected, ranging from the Nour to Ramsar regions, and were based on geological conditions, vegetation coverage and the sampling standards outlined by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The excess lifetime cancer risks (ELCRs) were evaluated and the coordinates of sampling locations were determined by the global positioning system. The average terrestrial outdoor gamma dose rate was 612.38±3707.93 nGy h−1, at 1 m above the ground. The annual effective gamma dose at the western part of Mazandaran Province was 750 μSv, and the ELCR was 0.26×10−2. Soil samples were analysed by gamma spectrometry with a high-purity germanium detector. The average 226Ra, 232Th, 40K and 137Cs activities were 1188.50±7838.40, 64.92±162.26, 545.10±139.42 and 10.41±7.86 Bq kg−1, respectively. The average soil radionuclide concentrations at the western part of Mazandaran Province were higher than the worldwide range. The excess lifetime risks of cancer and the annual effective gamma doses were also higher than the global average.”

5 Responses to “High levels of disease seen in high radiation areas of Iran”

  1. The Wide Acceptance of Radiation Hormesis by Japanese and Iranian Officials « Paul Langley's Nuclear History Blog Says:

    […] The nail in the coffin of the claims of the supposed protective effects imparted to people living in high radiation areas of Iran is found in this post in my blog: https://nuclearhistory.wordpress.com/2011/08/15/high-levels-of-disease-seen-in-high-radiation-areas-o… […]

  2. Reference lists for exposing radiation hormesis and quack radiation “science” « nuclear-news Says:

    […] https://nuclearhistory.wordpress.com/2011/08/15/high-levels-of-disease-seen-in-high-radiation-areas-o… […]

  3. Reference list on ‘radiation hormesis’ and ‘adaptive radiation’ « nuclear-news.info Says:

    […] https://nuclearhistory.wordpress.com/2011/08/15/high-levels-of-disease-seen-in-high-radiation-areas-o… […]

  4. demons dancing on a pin head in Fukushima. Grams per Curie. « Paul Langley's Nuclear History Blog Says:

    […] As for that radiologist in Adelaide who has told the public that he deliberately exposes himself to radiation, well, check this out dude. https://nuclearhistory.wordpress.com/2011/08/15/high-levels-of-disease-seen-in-high-radiation-areas-o… […]

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