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Negligible risk?

February 25, 2014

Study finds rise in lifetime cancer risk among Fukushima 1-year-old girls




The lifetime risk of developing cancer has risen slightly among 1-year-old girls in an area affected by the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, according to a study published online in a U.S. science journal Monday.

The assessment was based on a two-month study by Japanese researchers conducted about a year and a half after the March 2011 nuclear disaster. The study checked the radiation exposure of around 460 residents living near the crippled plant Fukushima Prefecture.

Health risk assessment indicates that post-2012 doses will increase the lifetime solid cancer incidence rate among 1-year-old girls by 1.06 percentage points in the Tamano area of Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, from the average rate of 31.76 percent, the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said.

The study, conducted in August and September of 2012, covered both male and female residents aged 3 to 96 in the village of Kawauchi, the Haramachi district of Minamisoma and the Tamano area — all located 20 to 50 km from the crisis-hit plant in Fukushima Prefecture.

The Fukushima nuclear plant was crippled by a massive earthquake and the ensuing tsunami, spewing radioactive materials into the environment and provoking concern about local residents’ health.

The study said that increases in the lifetime solid cancer incidence rate were relatively higher in the Tamano area than the other two areas among all age groups.

In Tamano, the rate was 0.82 point higher than average for 10-year-old girls, 0.71 point higher for 1-year-old boys and 0.59 point higher for 20-year-old women.

The team, which included researchers from Kyoto University and Fukushima University, said they measured radiation doses from both internal exposure, caused by factors such as food intake, as well as external exposure.

It is the first time projections have been made regarding the probability of cancer risk related to the nuclear disaster, according to the team.

Akio Koizumi, a team member and Kyoto University professor of environmental health, acknowledged that lifetime cancer incidence likely rose slightly due to radiation exposure but said he sees the impact of radiation exposure on health as “small.”



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