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What’s the cancer risk for those still living near Fukushima?

While only looking at traces of cesium, researchers say that the amount of radiation exposure matches what Japanese are exposed to from natural sources.
Bahar Gholipour, LiveScience
Tue, Feb 25, 2014 at 11:17 AM
Related Topics:
Health & Well Being, Nuclear Energy, Viruses & Diseases, Medicine
A woman from the Fukushima exclusion zone listens to town radio at a temporary housing shelter

A woman from the Fukushima exclusion zone listens to town radio at a temporary housing shelter on March 7, 2013 in Motomiya, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. (Photo: Ken Ishii/Getty Images)
For people living in areas neighboring the Fukushima nuclear power plants, the worst of the radiation exposure may have passed. New research suggests that any increase in cancer risk due to radiation exposure after 2012 is likely to be so small that it is not detectable.

Researchers found that people living in three areas located about 12 to 30 miles (20 to 50 kilometers) from the power plant received a radiation dose of between 0.89 and 2.51 millisieverts from their food, soil and air in 2012, one year after the explosions at the nuclear facility caused by a tsunami.

This dose was similar to the 2.09 millisieverts of radiation per year that people in Japan are exposed to on average from natural sources. The researchers then used their data on radiation exposure to estimate how much residents’ cancer risk increased. [Fukushima Radiation Leak: 5 Things You Should Know]

The researchers found that the radiation that residents were exposed to in 2012 increased their risk of cancer by only very small percentages — women’s risk of breast cancer increased by 0.28 percent, and the residents’ risk of any cancer increased by 1.06 percent, according to the study, published on Feb. 24 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


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