Children living near the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer at a rate 20 to 50 times that of children elsewhere, according to a new study. As AP reports, most of the 370,000 children in Fukushima prefecture have been given ultrasound checkups since the meltdown and thyroid cancer is suspected or confirmed in 137 of those children. "This is more than expected and emerging faster than expected," according to the lead author of the study, and raises doubts about the government's less fearful view.
Right after the disaster, the lead doctor brought in to Fukushima, Shunichi Yamashita, repeatedly ruled out the possibility of radiation-induced illnesses. The thyroid checks were being ordered just to play it safe, according to the government. But, as AP reports, a new study says children living near the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer at a rate 20 to 50 times that of children elsewhere, a difference the authors contend undermines the government's position that more cases have been discovered in the area only because of stringent monitoring...
Most of the 370,000 children in Fukushima prefecture (state) have been given ultrasound checkups since the March 2011 meltdowns at the tsunami-ravaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. The most recent statistics, released in August, show that thyroid cancer is suspected or confirmed in 137 of those children, a number that rose by 25 from a year earlier. Elsewhere, the disease occurs in only about one or two of every million children per year by some estimates.
"This is more than expected and emerging faster than expected," lead author Toshihide Tsuda told The Associated Press during a visit to Tokyo. "This is 20 times to 50 times what would be normally expected."
But Tsuda, a professor at Okayama University, said the latest results from the ultrasound checkups, which continue to be conducted, raise doubts about the government's view.
Thyroid cancer among children is one sickness the medical world has definitively linked to radiation after the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe. If treated, it is rarely fatal, and early detection is a plus, but patients are on medication for the rest of their lives.
Scientists are divided on Tsuda's conclusions. Conclusions about any connection between Fukushima radiation and cancer will help determine compensation and other policies. Many people who live in areas deemed safe by the government have fled fearing sickness, especially for their children.
An area extending about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the nuclear plant has been declared an exclusion zone. The borders are constantly being remapped as cleanup of radiated debris and soil continues in an effort to bring as many people back as possible. Decommissioning the plant is expected to take decades.
Noriko Matsumoto, 53, who used to work as a nurse in Koriyama, Fukushima, outside the no-go zone, fled to Tokyo with her then-11-year-old daughter a few months after the disaster. She had initially shrugged off the fears but got worried when her daughter started getting nosebleeds and rashes.
"My daughter has the right to live free of radiation," she said. "We can never be sure about blaming radiation. But I personally feel radiation is behind sicknesses."
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So once again, despite all the promises from officials that everything is under control, the fact is that Fukushima has devastated a generation and continues to leak radioactive material into the groundwater (and ocean).
Still... at least The 2020 Olympians won;t be swimming in shit like in Brazil next year.