Future Cancers From Fukushima
Plant May Be Hidden
Fukushima Power Plant
EMF Protection Devices
Magnetic Field Detector
Nov 21, 2011
Even if the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster, the worst
accident in 25 years, leads to many people developing
cancer, we may never find out.
Looking back on those early days of radiation horror, that
may sound implausible.
But the ordinary rate of cancer is so high, and our
understanding of the effects of radiation exposure so
limited, that any increase in cases from the Fukushima
nuclear plant disaster may be undetectable.
Several experts inside and outside Japan told The Associated
Press that cancers caused by the radiation may be too few to
show up in large population studies, like the long-term
survey just getting under way in Fukushima.
That could mean thousands of cancers under the radar in a
study of millions of people, or it could be virtually none.
Some of the dozen experts the AP interviewed said they
believe radiation doses most Japanese people have gotten
fall in a "low-dose" range, where the effect on cancer
The cancer risk may be absent, or just too small to detect,
said Dr. Fred Mettler, a radiologist who led an
international study of health effects from the 1986
That's partly because cancer is one of the top killers of
people in industrialized nations. Odds are high that if you
live long enough, you will die of cancer. The average
lifetime cancer risk is about 40 percent.
In any case, the 2 million residents of Fukushima
Prefecture, targeted in the new, 30-year survey, probably
got too little radiation to have a noticeable effect on
cancer rates, said Seiji Yasumura of the state-run Fukushima
Yasumura is helping run the project.
"I think he's right," as long as authorities limit
children's future exposure to the radiation, said Richard
Wakeford, a visiting epidemiology professor at the Dalton
Nuclear Institute at the University of Manchester in
England. Wakeford, who's also editor of the Journal of
Radiological Protection, said he's assuming that the
encouraging data he's seen on the risk for thyroid cancer is
The idea that Fukushima-related cancers may go undetected
gives no comfort to Edwin Lyman, a physicist and senior
scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, a group
that advocates for nuclear safety. He said that even if
cancers don't turn up in population studies, that "doesn't
mean the cancers aren't there, and it doesn't mean it
"I think that a prediction of thousands of cancer deaths as
a result of the radiation from Fukushima is not out of
line," Lyman said. But he stressed that authorities can do a
lot to limit the toll by reducing future exposure to the
radiation. That could mean expensive decontamination
projects, large areas of condemned land and people never
returning home, he said. "There's some difficult choices
Japan's Cabinet this month endorsed a plan to cut
contamination levels in half within the next two years.
The plant was damaged March 11 by a tsunami triggered by a
magnitude-9 earthquake. Japanese authorities estimate it
leaked about one-sixth as much radiation as the Chernobyl
accident. It spewed radioactive materials like iodine-131,
cesium-137 and 29 others contaminating the water, soil,
forests and crops for miles around.
So far, no radiation-linked death or sickness has been
reported in either citizens or workers who are shutting down
But while the Fukushima disaster has faded from world
headlines, many Japanese remain concerned about their
long-term health. And many don't trust reassurances from
government scientists like Yasumura, of the Fukushima
Many consumers worry about the safety of food from Fukushima
and surrounding prefectures, although produce and fish found
to be above government-set limits for contamination have
been barred from the market.
Fukushima has distributed radiation monitors to 280,000
children at its elementary and junior high schools. Many
children are allowed to play outside only two or three hours
a day. Schools have removed topsoil on the playgrounds to
reduce the dose, and the Education Ministry provided
radiation handbooks for teachers.
Thousands of children have been moved out of Fukushima since
the March disasters, mainly due to radiation fears.
Many parents and concerned citizens in and around Fukushima,
some even as far as Tokyo, carry Geiger counters for daily
measurement of radiation levels in their neighborhoods,
especially near schools and kindergartens. The devices are
probably one of the most popular electronics gadgets across
Japan these days. People can rent them at DVD shops or drug
stores in Fukushima.
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