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“Fear is potent risk of Japanese nuclear crisis” via the Washington Post

When it comes to the nuclear power disaster unfolding in Japan, there is far more to fear than fear itself. But fear is one of the biggest — and could turn out to be the most potent — dangers.

Although radiation escaping from a nuclear power plant catastrophe can increase the risk of many cancers and other health problems, stress, anxiety and fear ended up in many ways being much greater long-term threats to health and well-being after Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and other nuclear accidents, experts said Monday.

“The psychological effects were the biggest health effects of all — by far,” said Fred Mettler, a University of New Mexico professor emeritus and one of the world’s leading authorities on radiation, who studied Chernobyl for the World Health Organization. “In the end, that’s really what affected the most people.”

Fears of contamination and anxiety about the health of those exposed and their children […]

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