A team from the health ministry is conducting a study to check the risk of thyroid cancer on 2,000 workers who responded to the Fukushima nuclear disaster to help contain the radiation leaks. The research team from the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry is looking to determine the risks of radiation to the plant workers, who were exposed to radiation for a longer time than the residents, which were evacuated immediately.
The research was announced on an international research gathering in Tokyo by Osaka University professor, Tomotaka Sobue. He is also part of the team which will examine 1,972 power plant employees to check if they now have cancer or lumps. As these workers were at the Fukushima power plant to help contain the leaks soon as it started, the team believes that they may have been exposed to radiation doses of more than 100 millisieverts. An additional 2,000 employees from plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) will also be examined to differentiate the results from high to low risk groups.
While people from Fukushima Prefecture were examined and it was found that 33 of the residents aged 18 and below have thyroid cancer, experts from the international research gathering said that the cancer is doubtful to have been caused by radiation from the crippled nuclear plant. However, they do not contest the probability that thyroid cancer was found in residents, as sophisticated equipment was used. They also noted that in the Chernobyl catastrophe, an increase in thyroid cancer cases in children increased over four to five years after it happened. In Fukushima, on the other hand, none of those diagnosed was a baby and the discovery was within three years only, a short time to base the cancer on the radiation leaks.
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