Children near Fukushima up to 50 times more likely for thyroid cancer diagnosis

When an alarming number of 370,000 children living in Fukushima prefecture were diagnosed with thyroid cancer, the Japanese government attributed it to the increased scrutiny and vast testing taking place in the area since the March 2011 nuclear meltdown. Now that the numbers continue to grow at unprecedented rates, the government is reluctantly admitting that there may be something substantial to the claims.

Children in the area are 20-50 times more likely to be diagnosed with thyroid cancer than similar children in other areas of Japan. It isn’t just the number of cases that’s alarming. It’s also the speed with which the cancer seems to be manifesting.

“This is more than expected and emerging faster than expected,” lead author Toshihide Tsuda told The Associated Press during a visit to Tokyo. “This is 20 times to 50 times what would be normally expected.”

The Japanese government and their scientists have repeatedly downplayed the risk to the people in the area, claiming that the precautions to contain the radiation leaks at the doomed reactor have been effective.

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