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Fukushima Five Years After: Health Researchers Turn Blind Eye to Casualties via CounterPunch

By Joseph Mangano and Janette Sherman

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Public health leaders have addressed the topic with ignorance and deception. A search of the medical literature shows only two studies in Japan that review actual changes in disease and death rates. One showed that 127 Fukushima-area children have developed thyroid cancer since the meltdown; a typical number of cases for a similar sized population of children would be about 5-10. The other study showed a number of ectopic intrathyroidal problems in local children – a disorder that is extremely rare. No other studies looking at changes in infant deaths, premature births, child cancers, or other radiation-sensitive diseases are available.

But the literature also shows that researchers have been pouring out articles on mental health and psychological impacts on local residents. Journals from Japan and other nations have printed research on stress, behavioral changes, fears, and even changes in average blood pressure (blaming it on concerns about the meltdown). At least 51 of these articles are listed on the National Library of Medicine web site.

The same pattern occurred after prior meltdowns. The 1979 meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania was followed by a total denial that anyone had been harmed. The first journal article on changes in cancer cases didn’t appear until nearly 12 years after the meltdown; it showed a 64% rise in cancer cases within 10 miles of the plant during the first five years after the accident. The authors, from Columbia University, blamed this increase on stress and psychological reactions to the disaster.

After Chernobyl, the same corruption of scientific investigation occurred. The 31 emergency workers who helped bury the red-hot reactor and died from high exposures became almost a mantra (“Chernobyl caused only 31 deaths”) despite the massive amount of fallout it dispersed across the globe. A 2009 compendium of 5,000 articles, published by the New York Academy of Sciences, estimated about 1 million deaths from the meltdown occurred in the following 20 years. Unfortunately, nuclear supporters have made the assumption that nobody died from Fukushima, while churning out study after study on how a meltdown affects mental status – and no other part of the body.

But the truth is that Fukushima radiation, a mix of over 100 chemicals found only in atomic reactors and bombs, has caused considerable harm. University of South Carolina biology professor Timothy Mousseau has made multiple trips to Japan, collecting specimens of plants and animals. He and colleagues have published numerous journal articles showing DNA damage and actual disease near the plant. So if plants and animals are affected, it is logical that humans are as well.

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