Chil­dren near Fukushima more likely to suf­fer from thy­roid cancer

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Chil­dren liv­ing in Fukushima Pre­fec­ture in Ja­pan are sig­nif­i­cantly more likely to suf­fer from thy­roid cancer af­ter the Fukushima nu­clear dis­as­ter de­spite de­nial by Ja­panese author­i­ties, ac­cord­ing to re­cent re­ports.

The rate of chil­dren suf­fer­ing from thy­roid cancer in Fukushima Pre­fec­ture was as much as 20 to 50 times higher than the na­tional av­er­age as of 2014, three years af­ter the dis­as­ter, said Toshi­hide Tsuda, pro­fes­sor of en­vi­ron­men­tal epi­demi­ol­ogy at Okayama Univer­sity. More than 160 teenagers in Fukushima Pre­fec­ture had been di­ag­nosed with thy­roid cancer, in­clud­ing sus­pect cases, since the Fukushima Dai­ichi nu­clear power plant was crip­pled by the monstrous quake-trig­gered tsunami in March 2011. The num­ber al­most cer­tainly in­creased with the pas­sage of time, ac­cord­ing to Tsuda’s find­ings pub­lished in the elec­tronic edi­tion of the jour­nal of the In­ter­na­tional So­ci­ety for En­vi­ron­men­tal Epi­demi­ol­ogy (ISEE) late last year.

On the fifth an­niver­sary of the Fukushima nu­clear cri­sis, the par­ents of the chil­dren thy­roid cancer suf­fer­ers in Fukushima formed a mu­tual help group to de­mand the gov­ern­ment pro­vide con­vinc­ing ev­i­dence that their chil­dren’s suf­fer­ings were not re­lated to the nu­clear cri­sis. The ISEE has sent a mes­sage to the Ja­panese gov­ern­ment sug­gest­ing it to con­duct de­tailed and con­tin­u­ous re­search on res­i­dents’ health in Fukushima, but the gov­ern­ment did not re­spond to the ad­vice, Tsuda said. The Fukushima pre­fec­tural gov­ern­ment doubted the cases were re­lated to the nu­clear dis­as­ter and at­trib­uted the surge to “over di­ag­no­sis.” Olek­siy Pasyuk, an ex­pert on en­ergy pol­icy at the Na­tional Eco­log­i­cal Cen­ter of Ukraine, said that one of the main mis­takes made by Ja­pan in the after­math of the ac­ci­dent was that the gov­ern­ment had not stocked enough medic­i­nal io­dine tablets, which can pre­vent the ab­sorp­tion of ra­dioac­tive ma­te­rial into the hu­man body. Ac­cord­ing to re­search by Fukushima Univer­sity, about 3500 tril­lion bec­querels of ra­dia­tive ce­sium-137 were dis­charged into the sea with toxic wa­ter since the dis­as­ter broke out and ra­dia­tive ma­te­rial reached as far as the west­ern coast of north­ern Amer­ica. Mean­while, about 1000 evac­uees are still dis­placed and live in tem­po­rary hous­ing camps due to the un­con­trolled after­math of the nu­clear dis­as­ter. Xin­hua

Fukushima in the wake of the Tsunami, March 2011.

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