Fifty-nine young people from Fukushima Prefecture have either been diagnosed or suspected to have thyroid cancer but experts are still unsure if nuclear radiation is to blame for their illness. They were tested by the prefectural government along with 239,000 others at the end of September and those diagnosed were under 18 years old when the nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant happened in March 2011.
A leading newspaper reported that most experts in a meeting conducted by the Japan’s Environment Ministry are not sure if the radiation leaks from Fukushima are the culprit for thyroid cancer in the children, as they believe that it’s too soon for the exposure to have any effect on them yet. Toshide Tsuda, a professor of epidemiology at Okayama University warned the government that there is a huge probability of increase in cases as such in the future and said that, “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” and compared numbers of cancer cases all over Japan from the period of 1975 to 2008 with the rate in Fukushima and showed that annual average in those years were 5 to 11 people (late teens to early 20s) for every 1 million.
Tetsuya Ohira, a professor of epidemiology in Fukushima Medical University however, opposed the statistics, saying it “was not scientific to compare the Fukushima tests with cancer registry statistics.” Even officials from the prefecture have ruled out the likelihood that the increase in cancer cases was because of radiation exposure and compared it to the Chernobyl disaster of 1986 where cases of thyroid cancer increase around 4 to 5 years after the accident. Dr. Choi Kin, former president of the Hong Kong Medical Association said that, “radioactive iodine is linked to thyroid cancer. Through the intake of food, people may absorb and accumulate it inside glands.” But while children are more susceptible to absorb it because they are still growing, saying that the radioactive iodine came form the nuclear disaster than the normal environment is yet to be proven.
[via South China Morning Post]