Post-Fukushima, Mystery Cancers Puzzle

Following the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant meltdown in Japan in March 2011, the Japanese government screened the thyroids of Fukushima children and found 1/2 of the 300,476 screened showed thyroid abnormalities

It led to an outcry by nuclear activists assuming a connection to the accident, but scientists attacked the response in journal papers and in a series of letters published last month in Epidemiology—and expressed concern that the reaction sparked overdiagnosis and overtreatment.

Dillwyn Williams, a thyroid cancer specialist at University of Cambridge, said that the evidence suggests that the great majority—perhaps all the cases—are not linked to radiation. But, he said, they do offer up a medical mystery: that “many more thyroid carcinomas than were previously realized must originate in early life.”


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