Skip to main content

Response to the Chicago Tribune Editorial "The children of Fukushima: When medical tests mislead"


The following is a letter to the Editor for the Chicago Tribune editorial, "The children of Fukushima: When medical tests mislead." The letter was submitted through the online form on April 19, 2016, but there has been no response from Chicago Tribune. (Brevity of the content is due to the 400-word limit for letters).

*****

Dear Editor,

The March 25, 2016 Chicago Tribune editorial, “The children of Fukushima: When medical tests mislead” is misleading on its own regarding the childhood thyroid cancer situation in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan.

Differences in cancer rates by distance from the accident site and contamination levels may not be obvious, but an epidemiological analysis by Tsuda et al. (http://journals.lww.com/epidem/Fulltext/2016/05000/The_Authors_Respond.37.aspx) found a dose response tendency with proximity to the accident site after adjusting for the length of time between the accident and the time of screening. It is also important to remember only 1,080 children had their thyroid exposure doses directly measured and that is only 0.36% of 300,000 children who underwent thyroid ultrasound examination. Taken under high background levels, the doses are far from being accurate.

Children younger than age 5 showed an increased rate of thyroid cancer beginning at 4-5 years after the Chernobyl accident, so the first 3 years after the Fukushima accident, covered by the completed first round screening, would not expect to see that age group affected. The first cancer case was diagnosed about 17 months after the accident, not within a year, and some of these early cases might have been the result of radiation exposure promoting the growth of latent cancer that might not have become large enough to be detected until much later in life if unexposed to radiation.

Comparison with three other prefectures where one cancer case was diagnosed in 4,365 subjects is invalid as its small sample size lacks the necessary statistical power. The Korean screening is in adults and should not be compared with children.

It is true that unnecessary medical testing can lead to overdiagnosis and overtreatment, but the clinical information provided by Fukushima Medical University, such as metastasis and physical proximity of tumor to other vital structures, validates surgical interventions for the majority of the operated cases in Fukushima. Thyroid cancer is believed to grow slowly, but 80% of thyroid cancer cases discovered in the ongoing second round screening had no suspicious findings in the first round screening only 2-3 years earlier.

It is not just a cancer death but cancer diagnosis itself that is concerning for patients and their loved ones, and the causality should not be prematurely prejudged. A lesson of the Fukushima children may be the importance of conducting a timely and adequate collection of the exposure data and a comprehensive evaluation of data in a transparent and unbiased manner.

Yuri Hiranuma, D.O.
Member, Radiation and Health Committee
Physicians for Social Responsibility

Comments

  1. Fukushima involved 3 reactors, Chernobyl one. The children weren't given thyroid pills. AND THEY WERE NOT EVACUATED right away!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Fukushima Thyroid Examination Fact Sheet: September 2017 (Long Version)

Fukushima Thyroid Examination Fact Sheet:  September 2017
✴Copying or re-posting part or whole of this post is not permitted. Please link to this post instead.

Corrections on July 24, 2018: 
Paragraph 5 in "4. Geographic distribution" in section "Official stance on radiation effects."
"...a clear regional difference of thyroid cancer occurrence (per million) in the second round results: 49.2, 25.7, 19.6 and 15.5 in the evacuation zone, Hamadori, Nakadori, and Aizu, respectively." was corrected (correction shown in red) to "...a clear regional difference of thyroid cancer occurrence (per 100,000) in the second round results: 49.2, 25.7, 19.6 and 15.5 in the evacuation zone, Nakadori, Hamadori, and Aizu, respectively."

Note: Corrections were made in the following paragraphs in pink color on October 17, 2017.
Second paragraph in section "Screening protocol"
First paragraph in section "Thyroid cancer cases"
First paragraph in section &qu…

Mako Oshidori in Düsseldorf "The Hidden Truth about Fukushima"

On March 8th, 2014, comedienne/journalist Mako Oshidori gave a lecture, "The Hidden Truth About Fukushima" in Düsseldorf, Germany, organized by a citizen's group, SAYONARA Genpatsu Düsseldorf. Translation of Mako Oshidori's March 6th, 2014 press conference at the German IPPNW (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War) Symposium in Frankfurt can be found here.
The lecture, given in Japanese with German interpretation, was transcribed and translated into English.




Moderator: Good evening everyone. My name is Mariko. Welcome to a lecture by Mako Oshidori. As we all know, the Japanese people experienced the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. A huge earthquake, followed by tsunami and the nuclear accident, has become an unprecedented disaster for the Japanese as well as the rest of the world. Moreover, this accident is not only out of control but continues to be in critical state.
As you may be aware, the issue of anti-nuclear power p…

Circumstances Regarding the Japan-Sponsored IARC Expert Group on Thyroid Monitoring After Nuclear Accidents (TM-NUC)

On October 23-25, 2017, the Expert Group on Thyroid Monitoring after Nuclear Accidents (TM-NUC) met in Lyon, France for the first of two planned sessions (see this PDF for the agenda). The TM-NUC project was established by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in order to "develop strategies and recommendations on how to plan and implement thyroid monitoring in populations possibly affected by radiation exposure due to nuclear accidents." 



The aims of the TM-NUC project are to: 
assess the latest scientific evidence on the epidemiology, natural history, and clinical management of thyroid cancer, to develop principles for thyroid ultrasound examinations after nuclear accidents. This includes reviewing the scientific literature and compiling knowledge and experience from relevant countries.identify unmet research needs and propose epidemiological study designs to address these gaps in knowledge.According to the TM-NUC website
The Expert Group consists of 16 int…