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Fukushima Children Show Rise in Thyroid Cancer

Three years after the Fukshima Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered a triple meltdown, doctors are seeing a significant rise of thyroid cancer in children and young adults. Last month, cases of thyroid cancer in individuals between the ages of 18 and below increased to 75. Out of those patients, 33 cases were confirmed to have cancer.

So far, doctors have tested 254,000 out of 375,000 Fukushima children. They will continue to be screened throughout their lives. Thyroid cancer usually affects one to two people per million. The individuals who develop the illness are within the age range of 10 to 14 years old.

According to the UN Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, more than 6,000 cases of thyroid cancer in children live in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Emeritus professor of Pathology at Cambridge University Dillwyn Williams noted that most of the radiation blew over the Pacific Ocean. The thyroid doses were low compared to Chernobyl.

However, the rise in thyroid cancer in Fukushima children might not be directly linked to the nuclear accident. Professor of thyroid gland surgery at Fukushima Medical University said doctors are looking for other unknown types of genetic mutations associated with the cancer. He also noted the study could serve as “markers” to determine if the illness is in fact caused by the radiation.
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