South China Morning Post, Dec. 23, 2013 (emphasis added): Surge in cancers among young in Fukushima, but experts divided on cause [...] experts are divided about whether their illness is caused by nuclear radiation [from Fukushima Daiichi]. [...] At a meeting hosted by Japan’s Environmental Ministry and the prefectural government on Saturday, most experts were not convinced [...] Among those who voiced alarm was Toshihide Tsuda, a professor of epidemiology [...] In the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, it was not until four or five years after the accident that thyroid cancer cases surged.
Asahi Shimbun, Dec. 22, 2013: Experts differ over nuclear accident’s effect on cancer rate in children [...] Experts were divided over whether radiation from the Fukushima nuclear accident affected the thyroid cancer rate among children in Fukushima Prefecture, in which 59 young people have been diagnosed with or suspected of contracting the disease [of 239,000 tested]. Most of the experts dismissed the possibility that effects from radiation from the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant could appear so soon in children.
The ‘Divided Experts’
- Toshihide Tsuda, a professor of epidemiology at Okayama University: “The rate at which children in Fukushima Prefecture have developed thyroid cancer can be called frequent because it is several times to several tens of times higher” [Based on Japan's cancer registration statistics froom 1975-2008 which show an annual average of 5-11 people in their late teens/early 20s developed thyroid cancer for every 1 million people] “Because there is the possibility that the number of cases could increase in the future, there is a need to implement measures now.”
- Tetsuya Ohira, professor of epidemiology at Fukushima Medical University: It was not appropriate in scientific terms to compare the results of the testing in Fukushima with cancer registry statistics.
- Shinichi Suzuki, Fukushima Medical University professor involved in the thyroid tests: There was no link between the effects of radiation exposure and the cases of diagnosed or suspected thyroid cancer.
Is Chernobyl proof that it’s too soon for there to be any thyroid cancers related to the Fukushima disaster?
- Anand Grover, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to health: “Chernobyl is not a good example, whose study in the first three years was a blackout. So we don’t have data.”
- Hiroshima to Fukushima — Biohazards of Radiation (Science Policy Reports), Eiichiro Ochiai (2014): the data on the Chernobyl incident show that thyroid cancer did show up even just one year later [...] a few cases of thyroid cancer seem to have occurred almost immediately within 1 year.
Published: December 23rd, 2013 at 12:26 am ET