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No harm to hibakusha children: To be confirmed

October 6, 2015


Researchers: A-bomb radiation does not increase cancer mortality risk in 'hibakusha' children

By YOHEI IZUMIDA/ Staff Writer

Children whose parents were directly exposed to radiation from the 1945 atomic bombings have the same death rate from cancer as the general population, the latest study by a joint Japanese-U.S. research institute showed.

The Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF) said it found “no indications of deleterious health effects” among the children of people exposed to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

However, it said further studies are needed to confirm the findings.

RERF’s three previous surveys all reported no association between the deaths of children of “hibakusha” survivors of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombings and their parents’ exposure to radiation.

But around half of hibakusha still feel anxiety that their exposure has put their offspring at risk.

The research on the effects of the nuclear attacks was initially started by the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission, the RERF’s predecessor set up by the United States in 1947.

According to the RERF, the latest survey covered 75,327 individuals born between 1946 and 1984, including both second-generation hibakusha and people whose parents were not exposed to radiation from the atomic bombs.

According to the survey results, which were released on Oct. 5, 1,246 of all subjects died of cancer and 3,937 died for other reasons. There were no differences in the rates between the children of hibakusha and the others.

The findings were published in the online edition of the British medical journal Lancet Oncology on Sept. 14.

RERF said the latest results need to be “complemented by sensitive molecular techniques,” and that it intends to compile its findings of the next survey in around 10 years.

A survey recently conducted by The Asahi Shimbun showed that 2,801 of 5,762 hibakusha feel anxiety over whether their exposure to radiation may have affected the health of their children and grandchildren.

Megu Otaki, a professor at Hiroshima University’s Research Institute for Radiation Biology and Medicine, said it is too early to conclude that second-generation hibakusha need not worry about the effects of the nuclear attacks.

“Such diseases as cancer frequently appear only after the patients become old, so it could simply be that the effects of radiation will become observable in the future,” Otaki said.


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