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Thyroid cancer increasing nine years after Fukushima

March 17, 2020
Fukushima Medical University has published new thyroid cancer data from its ongoing screening study of children exposed to radioactive contamination from the March 2011 reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. The new data, according to an article by Dr. Alex Rosen, co-chair of IPPNW-Germany, shows a disturbing increase in the number of thyroid cancer cases and increased numbers of nodules and cysts in the thyroid glands of children participating in the screenings.

“The official rate of new cases of thyroid cancer in children under 25 years of age in Japan in the ten years 2000-2009 was 0.59 per 100,000 per year. Today, nine years after the beginning of the nuclear catastrophe in the investigated population of about 218,000 patients, 11.5 thyroid cancer cases would have been expected.

However, the actual number of thyroid cancer cases in Fukushima is significantly higher: the 197 diagnosed cases in the study cohort represent an increase by a factor of 17 compared to the expected number of cases (197:11.5).” A closer look at the numbers, Dr. Rosen says, suggests that the ratio may be 23:1 or even higher.

Dr. Rosen also cautions that the number of participants in the screenings has gone steadily down since 2011, resulting in an incorrect inference that the number of new cancers has gone down, when, in fact, they are merely going undetected or unreported.

“We continue to see a significant increase in new cases of thyroid cancer in children and adolescents in Fukushima,” Dr. Rosen concludes. “Currently, the ratio of diagnosed cases of thyroid cancer to expected cases is 23:1. Due to the developments outlined in this paper, these figures are likely to be a systematic underestimation, as became apparent by the newly published thyroid cancer cases diagnosed outside the study protocol.”

Dr. Rosen’s article was published this month by IPPNW-Germany.

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