Increased rates of thyroid cancer may be a result of nuclear testing

According to a recent New York Times article, thyroid cancer in the U.S. has been on the rise for nearly 40 years. This means that the impacts of radioactive iodine fallout from nuclear weapons testing cannot be ruled out, according to

With a half-life of 8.5 days, Iodine-131 can rapidly contaminate air, vegetation and milk supplies. Because it is absorbed mostly in the body's thyroid, radioactive iodine has been linked to thyroid cancer and other types of thyroid damage in humans. It takes about 90 days for the radioactivity of I-131 to diminish to very small levels, and thyroid cancer can have a latency period as long as 38 years.

According to the National Cancer Institute, about 150 million curies of radioactive iodine was released in open air from nuclear testing in Nevada, which caused heavy contamination of the nation's milk supplies from the early 1950's to the early 1960's.

After the ratification of the Limited Test Ban Treaty in 1963, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration established "Protective Action Guides" for Iodine-131 that triggered the removal of dairy products from human consumption following nuclear accidents.

Thyroid cancer is the fastest-growing cancer in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.