Scientists say children living near nuclear power plants have a higher risk of cancer

Scientists in Germany say young children living near nuclear power plants have a significantly higher risk of developing leukemia and other forms of cancer.

According to reports a study by researchers at the University of Mainz has found a connection between the distance between a child's home and the nearest nuclear power plant and the risk of developing cancer, such as leukemia, before their fifth birthday.

The study was conducted at the request of the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BFS) in regions near 21 reactors or former reactors.

In those areas, 77 cases of cancer were found among children under five and 37 children living within a 5-kilometer (3-mile) radius of nuclear power plants had developed leukemia between 1980 and 2003; a 60-percent increase over the national average of 17.

The risk was apparently 117 percent higher when only leukemia was considered.

The report suggests other radiation experts believe the study understates the issue and say there is an increased cancer risk for children living within 50 kilometers of a reactor.

The German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel is said to be looking closely at the study but Germany already has plans to prematurely shut down all of its nuclear power plants by the early 2020s.

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