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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise

Children cancers & radiation

Received from Dr. Gordon Edwards (Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility)

 

Background:    October 26, 2015

Based on abstract mathematical argumentation, without any supporting medical evidence, and without knowing the individual doses of atomic radiation experienced by Japanese citizens living in the region where the Fukushima disaster took place, two international agencies associated with the United Nations -- UNSCEAR and WHO -- have not hesitated to pronounce that the harmful medical after-effects of the Fukushima disaster will not be "discernible as radiation-caused".  

These agencies are not actually denying that there will be many cancers, leukemias, genetic effects and other diseases caused by the accident in the decades to come, they are simply saying that it is unlikely that anybody will be able to PROVE beyond a reasonable doubt, using statistical methods, that these extra deaths are caused by people's exposure to radioactivity from the Fukushima Daiichi reactors.

John Gofman, a pioneering nuclear physicist who subsequently became an award-winning medical researcher, has called it the "perfect crime" -- you know people are being killed, you know the cause of death, you know the perpetrator, but you can't actually prove it.  And indeed, these two international agencies have done absolutely nothing to help gather the evidence that might have made it possible to prove something -- i.e. gathering data on individual exposures, which could have been done -- for example, by a systematic collection of baby teeth identified by geological location.  The baby teeth would have absorbed strontium-90 and other bone-seeking radionuclides and would have given a rough estimate of radiation exposure to young children as a function of their location.

All radiation-induced illnesses following chronic low-level exposure have a "latency period" measured in years or even decades before the full medical effects are seen in the exposed population.  Thyroid cancers have one of the shortest latency periods, especially in young children, so that disease is one of the first things to look for.  In Belarus, more than five thousand children had to have their thyroid glands surgically removed following the Chernobyl accident, and in that case the latency period was roughly five years.  

In the Fukushima region, childhood thyroid cancers are already so much greater than anticipated that it is difficult to escape the conclusion that these burgeoning cancers are radiation-caused.  Ironically, those who put their faith in the hand-waving estimates of UNSCEAR and WHO maintain that a cause-effect relationship cannot be proven in the absence of individual dose measurements.  So it is OK, in the absence of evidence, and without individual dose measurements, to conclude that cancers are NOT caused by radiation, but it is NOT OK to conclude that cancers ARE being caused by radiation based on a 20- to 50-fold increase in thyroid cancer, despite no individual dose data?

The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) has been sharply criticized by the Nobel Prize-Winning Organization, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), for having a biased approach towards the medical consequences of the Fukushima triple meltdown, designed to deny or to minimize the health effects of radioactive emissions from the crippled reactors.

"Alex Rosen of IPPNW-Germany, one of the lead authors of the critique, said UNSCEAR 'is comprised of delegates from nuclear states with vested interests and a biased view on nuclear energy. Their report on the Fukushima nuclear disaster draws mainly on data from the nuclear industry’s publications rather than from independent sources, omits or misinterprets crucial aspects of radiation exposure and uses questionable assumptions as the basis for its calculations.' "  See http://tinyurl.com/n9wkqxr .

 

On the other hand the World Health Organization (WHO) is bound by an agreement signed long ago (1959) with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) restricting WHO's ability to conduct studies or publish reports on the health effects observed in populations exposed to atomic radiation from licensed nuclear facilities.  Here is an excerpt from the Agreement: 

 

". . . it is recognized by the World Health Organization that the International Atomic Energy Agency has the primary responsibility for encouraging, assisting and co-ordinating research on, and development and practical application of, atomic energy for peaceful uses throughout the world without prejudice to the right of the World Health Organization to concern itself with promoting, developing, assisting, and co-ordinating international health work, including research, in all its aspects. Whenever either organization proposes to initiate a programme or activity on a subject in which the other organization has or may have a substantial interest, the first party shall consult the other with a view to adjusting the matter by mutual agreement."

 

By the way, I spoke about the high thyroid cancer incidence in the Fukushima region on a Canadian TV News show on the Third Anniversary of the disaster: see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xk1L_JHHFuA&feature=youtu.be .

The main source of dietary iodine in Japan is through seaweed, not through the ingestion of milk as is the case in European and North American populations.  It is likely that this dietary iodine is the cause of the dramatic spike in thyroid cancer cases among Japanese children.

Gordon Edwards.

CCNR Directory of Audio-Visual Resources on Fukushima:  http://ccnr.org/index_fuk.html .

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Researcher: 

Children's cancer linked to 

Fukushima radiation

by Yuri Kageyama, American Press, Oct. 8, 2015

http://tinyurl.com/qcxtxsa

 

 

TOKYO (AP) — 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."

The study was released online this week and is being published in the November issue of Epidemiology, produced by the Herndon, Virginia-based International Society for Environmental Epidemiology. The data comes from tests overseen by Fukushima Medical University.

Making sense of the relationship between radiation and cancer is precarious: It's scientifically impossible to link an individual cancer case to radiation. Looking harder with routine check-ups, like the one in Fukushima, leads to quicker discovery of tumors, inflating the tallies in a so-called "screening effect."

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 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.

In the same Epidemiology issue, Scott Davis, professor at the Department of Epidemiology in the Seattle-based School of Public Health, said the key limitation of Tsuda's study is the lack of individual-level data to estimate actual radiation doses.

Davis agreed with the findings of the World Health Organization and UNSCEAR, or the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, both of which have carried out reviews on Fukushima and predicted cancer rates will remain stable, with no rises being discernable as radiation-caused.

David J. Brenner, professor of radiation biophysics at Columbia University Medical Center, took a different view. While he agreed individual estimates on radiation doses are needed, he said in a telephone interview that the higher thyroid cancer rate in Fukushima is "not due to screening. It's real."

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."

Andrew F. Olshan, professor at the Department of Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina, in Chapel Hill, noted that research on what follows a catastrophe is complex and difficult.

"Dr. Tsuda's study had limitations including assessment of individual radiation dose levels to the thyroid and the ability to fully assess the impact of screening on the excess cases detected," he said.

"Nonetheless, this study is critical to initiate additional investigations of possible health effects, for governmental planning, and increasing public awareness."

 

 

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