Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Japan Medicine

Researchers Say Fukushima Child Cancer Rates 20-50x Higher Than Expected (ap.org) 143

New submitter JackSpratts writes: According to the Associated Press, "A new study says children living near the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer at a rate 20 to 50 times that of children elsewhere, a difference the authors contend undermines the government's position that more cases have been discovered in the area only because of stringent monitoring.

Most of the 370,000 children in Fukushima prefecture (state) have been given ultrasound checkups since the March 2011 meltdowns at the tsunami-ravaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. The most recent statistics, released in August, show that thyroid cancer is suspected or confirmed in 137 of those children, a number that rose by 25 from a year earlier. Elsewhere, the disease occurs in only about one or two of every million children per year by some estimates."

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Researchers Say Fukushima Child Cancer Rates 20-50x Higher Than Expected

Comments Filter:
  • Survey bias (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Of course when you go looking for something, you find more of it.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      Just so.

      In the rest of the world, children do not routinely get several ultrasounds per year to check for thyroid cancer. Is it really suprising that we'd find much more of something we're looking Really Hard to Find?

      So, I guess my real question is: Where's the control population that gets the same checks as the Fukushima population? And what's their rate of thyroid cancer?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Precisely. There is no control group for what this person claims. When control groups are considered, these kids actually exhibit the same results. They find a lot more potentially cancerous cells when they screen with sensitive tests that have not been used before.

        What was done here is to take one set of data from screening and ignore all others. And yet, people actually print this crap.
        • Re:Survey bias (Score:5, Insightful)

          by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Friday October 09, 2015 @04:18PM (#50695563) Journal

          When control groups are considered, these kids actually exhibit the same results.

          Really? The child cancer rates are 20-50x higher everywhere than people think?

          You should read the article.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            No, they are not cancer rates at all, they are discovery of potentially cancerous cells, most of which are benign. In any detailed screening using this method, you will discover more cases that would not normally be discovered.

            The cancer rate is not higher than anywhere else. They tricked you into reading it that way.
          • Re:Survey bias (Score:5, Informative)

            by delt0r ( 999393 ) on Saturday October 10, 2015 @08:13AM (#50698393)
            It not a higher rate of cancer. It is a higher rate of *potentially* cancerous cells. But that is how screening works. Rather high false positive rates but generally much less invasive or cheaper than the more expensive test that has a low false positive rate.

            Here is the test. I test 400,000 children for a cancer that has a prevalence rate of 1 in a million. The test has a .1% false positive rate. If my child tests positive what is the probability my child really has the cancer. Note most doctors get this wrong.
        • Precisely. There is no control group for what this person claims. When control groups are considered, these kids actually exhibit the same results. They find a lot more potentially cancerous cells when they screen with sensitive tests that have not been used before.

          So what you are saying is that no one thought to compare the death rates? If children are going undiagnosed, in your idea that the cancer rates are the same - then they'll just die - apparently with no one knowing why.

          Seriously people, this is some of the stupidest reasoning ever. You figure the children from the control set would just mysteriously dissapear and no one knows about it?

          Talk about confirmation bias! deny, then come up with ridiculous proclamations.

          So is radiation effects on organisms

          • You don't understand what a control set is. They need to conduct the same screenings on control populations to determine if there is any statistical difference from the Fukushima population. And to this point, when that has been done, the findings of the Fukushima group are consistent and even lower than other groups. But this person intentionally ignores that data and rather uses a comparison against historical unscreened populations, which of course are going to be much lower because they haven not been s
      • Just so.

        In the rest of the world, children do not routinely get several ultrasounds per year to check for thyroid cancer. Is it really suprising that we'd find much more of something we're looking Really Hard to Find?

        So, I guess my real question is: Where's the control population that gets the same checks as the Fukushima population? And what's their rate of thyroid cancer?

        Is thyroid cancer one of those benign cancers that doesn't cause you to get ill? I ask because only if that's true is it possible for the rate in a control population to be the same as for the Fukushima children and we're not aware of it. Given a rate of 20-50 times the normal rates it doesn't seem possible that it's not related to the reactor meltdown.

      • Just so.

        In the rest of the world, children do not routinely get several ultrasounds per year to check for thyroid cancer. Is it really suprising that we'd find much more of something we're looking Really Hard to Find?

        So what you are saying is that if a child does not get tested for thyroid cancer, the child will cure themselves of it?

        Seriuoosly cancer does not work like that most of the time. As in the really rare cases of spontaneous remission.

        If in a normal population, of say 100,000 children let's say 5 get thyroid cancer

        If these children in Fukushima get 25 cases for everty 100,000 children, and that is survey bias, and there is no statistical difference, Your thesis is that either testing causes thyroid can

        • by khallow ( 566160 )

          So what you are saying is that if a child does not get tested for thyroid cancer, the child will cure themselves of it?

          It is worth noting that does happen. Plus, sounds like we're not actually speaking of cancer. It's very possible that this won't develop into cancer over the course of a human lifetime.

          because that's the craziest shit I ever heard

          Yea, right. Now it's crazy to want basic scientific procedures, like use of a control group, followed.

        • by sjames ( 1099 )

          Seriuoosly cancer does not work like that most of the time. As in the really rare cases of spontaneous remission.

          We don't actually know that. We know that thyroid cancer that gets bad enough to be symptomatic doesn't just go away spontaneously. We have no idea what percentage of cases detected in intensive screening will just go away because intensive screening is rare. We don't know how many of the positives are false.

          We have much better data on breast cancer screening. The big surprise there was that 20% of the detected (but asymptomatic) cancers do spontaneously regress [vision.org].

          That may or may not be the same for thyroid c

        • by delt0r ( 999393 )
          No they don't have 137 confirmed cases. They have 137 *potential* cases from a test that has a *false positive* rate. The quote are media BS "Dude on a phone said...". Show me the data. Real data, not "OMG Radiation!" Incidentally they don't even have that data. How many of the 137 were not exposed to *any* radiation?
    • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
      It's CANCER. Even if you don't go looking for it, if you wait long enough the patient dies from it. Incidence rates of all sorts of cancers are well documented all over the world.
      • There are many benign forms of cancer. You could easily live for years or even decades without noticing it, and in the meantime you could die from something else.
        • Re:Survey bias (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Friday October 09, 2015 @06:37PM (#50696303)

          benign forms of cancer

          No there are not. And yes I am a doctor. Cancer is by definition NOT benign. Now you may be referring to less aggressive cancers and yes there are plenty of those. Basal cell carcinoma for example. Some prostate cancers. Cervical cancers. All of those are very slow in the growing and spreading. However thyroid cancers, due to their location, are obvious pretty quickly. People tend to wonder about that lump sticking out of their throat.

          Still all of that is besides the point. When autopsies are performed, any cancers are noted even when the patient dies of unrelated conditions. For example almost ALL men over age 80 and ALL men above 90 have prostate cancer, although most of them die from something else. So yes you're right in that cancer can go undetected. But you are wrong in thinking we don't know exactly what the "normal" amount of cancer is in a population.

          • Still all of that is besides the point. When autopsies are performed, any cancers are noted even when the patient dies of unrelated conditions. For example almost ALL men over age 80 and ALL men above 90 have prostate cancer, although most of them die from something else. So yes you're right in that cancer can go undetected. But you are wrong in thinking we don't know exactly what the "normal" amount of cancer is in a population.

            Are you suggesting that every dead person gets a full autopsy? Because that is not even close to be true.

            About cancer and tumors: you're right, but I don't think that who wrote this article knows the difference.

            • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *

              Are you suggesting that every dead person gets a full autopsy? Because that is not even close to be true.

              In some countries, close to it. However you don't have to autopsy every single person to get a pretty good idea of how the situation is in the general population. If you did then statisticians would be out of work. Enough autopsies have been performed over the years to get fairly reliable data - but autopsies are not the only source of data. They were my counter to the "hidden cancer" argument. Quite a lot of people with cancer actually do see a doctor about it. Sometimes too late. But the capture rate is p

            • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
              And now that I think about it: when you have no idea why someone drops dead, that person certainly gets an autopsy in all but the poorest countries. So the guy who didn't know he had cancer and died from it - well there you go, he gets added to the statistics. So the ONLY case that probably wouldn't get covered is the guy with a known chronic illness who dies from his illness and who by the way had an asymptomatic, undetected cancer. That's a very small segment of the population. OK I'm done.
              • That is not even close to be true. The number of autopsies in the western world dwindled since the '70s. Here an article [www4.ti.ch] about autopsies in the Canton Ticino [wikipedia.org] (Switzerland, not a poor country by any means): 304 autopsies in 1977, 144 in 2007. The same trend is present in all the other University and Cantonal hospitals of Switzerland. According to this site [medscape.com] in the United States before 1970, autopsies were performed in 40% to 60% of all cases involving hospital deaths, while in recent years, that number has d
      • by HiThere ( 15173 )

        No, it's not cancer. It's an indication of possible cancer. What is the rate of false positives? I don't know, you don't know, the article didn't say. It also didn't name the test, so you can't easily look it up.

        You can't accurately tell whether this is normally expectable or horrendous. The information to decide that isn't present.

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      But not necessarily at a higher rate than the established base rate.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gweihir ( 88907 )

      That is nonsense here and rather obviously so. (The lies of the nuclear-apologists are really staggering and so is their stupidity...)

      The ultrasound makes you find it earlier, you know when there is a better chance to treat it. It does not make you find more at all. Cancer has a way it making itself known at some point and it has an extremely low spontaneous remission rate (i.e. it almost never vanishes by itself).
       

      • The lies of the nuclear-apologists are really staggering and so is their stupidity...

        Perhaps. And perhaps the Anonymous Coward you're answering is pro-nuclear. We don't know, since he only made a comment on methodology. What we do know is that you're following a tribal politics approach to engineering decisions, which will most certainly result in lots people getting hurt needlessly, either directly or through economic consequences.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "20-50 times higher"... right?
    Still only 137 suspected or confirmed (note, not all confirmed).

    Big percentage of small number = slightly bigger small number

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Reminds me of using 6-sigma process on a widget made of 112 parts and 16 widgets/year.
      • Reminds me of using 6-sigma process on a widget made of 112 parts and 16 widgets/year.

        Or using Critical Path Management for programming projects when you are the only programmer in the organization.

        Boss: [interrupting work] "I need to see a CPM chart with tasks and personnel."
        Programmer: "Okay." [produces chart with a horizontal row of connected boxes] "See? There's only one path, it's all critical, and it's all me."
        Boss: "Better get on it then."

    • Re:Hmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Rei ( 128717 ) on Friday October 09, 2015 @05:04PM (#50695837) Homepage

      Big percentage of small number = slightly bigger small number

      Perhaps you should go around hospitals and explain this to the children with the excess cases of thyroid cancer while they're receiving their chemo.

      • I don't think that early diagnosed thyroid cancer is treated with chemotherapy.
        • Usually the thyroid is surgically removed and the person goes on thyroid hormones for the rest of their life.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          Thyroid cancer can be treated with surgery and radiotherapy, that leaves a scar on the front of your neck. Sadly we know from experience that children will be bullied because of this mark, and will face discrimination. A course of radioactive iodine is usually taken to kill any remaining thyroid cells, and makes you quite sick for a while.

          After treatment, you have to take thyroxine for the rest of your life. That's 70+ years for these kids. Thyroxine has some side effects. Because you have no thyroid you ca

  • show that thyroid cancer is suspected or confirmed in 137 of those children

    Elsewhere, the disease occurs in only about one or two of every million children per year by some estimates."

    Why do you include 'suspected' cases? How about splitting up those two completely different diagnoses? If it is 1 confirmed and 136 suspected, that would change the conclusion of this study, since it could potentially put it more in line with the estimates. Also, you would need the results of the same ultrasound checkups on a few hundred thousand kids living outside Fukushima to really determine if there is an increased risk of cancer or not. Going by some vague estimates isn't as accurate.

    • by jbengt ( 874751 )
      More than suspected:

      Shinichi Suzuki, M.D., Ph.D.
      Chair, Division of Thyroid and Endocrine Surgery
      Fukushima Medical University Hospitala
      translation:
      . . . Furthermore, 23 (24%) cases were positive for lymph node metastasis, and 2 cases (2%) were suspected of distant metastasis — multiple lung metastasis. . .

  • That is shocking, particularly since many people expected them to be about 100%.
  • So... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Are the usual pro-nuke ppl. here going to trumpet the same old "no injuries from Fukushima" line, over and over again?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Shatrat ( 855151 )

      There's no control for this study. You might as well logically conclude that ultrasounds cause thyroid cancer based on this.

    • Re:So... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Friday October 09, 2015 @04:14PM (#50695533) Homepage

      Are the usual pro-nuke ppl. here going to trumpet the same old "no injuries from Fukushima" line, over and over again?

      Probably, but nobody except other wackjobs believes them. The more interesting but infinitely harder to address question is whether or not nuclear power, with all it's warts (Chernobyl, Hanford, Fukishima, bog-knows-what-all-is-left-in-Russia) is more or less dangerous than fossil fuels in general.

      My best guess is that it's considerably safer since the data on coal looks pretty bad.

      The only real problem for nuclear is that it's too damned expensive compared to fossil fuels and now even solar and wind. It's a horribly complex technology that it's adherents fucked up badly by not carefully and consistently holding to the highest of engineering standards (like naval reactors). They cheaped out and they are paying the price.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Cyberax ( 705495 )
        So, how many of these children died from cancer so far? Answer: none.
      • You are right that it's all about comparing risks of different power. But fear of radiation is harmful on it's own. 1600 people died [nytimes.com] from fear of radiation while thus far no one has died of the radiation (estimates I've read vary greatly so I'm not going to quote any of them about the long term effect). Whatever your opinion about nuclear power, the FEAR of it is a problem and IS costing lives, whether that is this type of fear or keeping us dependent upon fossil fuels which cost a lot of lives.
      • Don't blame nuclear for this one. They didn't give the residents iodine tablets [save-child...iation.org]. They distributed the tablets [npr.org] at the time of the accident, but never gave them to the evacuated residents. That's pretty much like if the Titanic had had enough liferafts to save everyone, but after it struck the iceberg they decided not to put anyone aboard the liferafts. Yeah the ship sank, but the deaths were caused by the safety measure in place to save the people aboard not being used, not the sinking itself.

        It's a horr

      • The only real problem for nuclear is that it's too damned expensive compared to fossil fuels and now even solar and wind.

        That's only a problem in the west where we not only don't have a level playing field by we actively balance it away from nuclear towards both green AND coal to protect the interests of the existing industries while paying lip service to the greenies.

        If you look to the middle east and to the west they can't build the things fast enough, and yet they don't seem to be bankrupting themselves.

      • by delt0r ( 999393 )
        Lets also not forget the 20 meter tsunami that caused this nuclear incident killed or washed away the better part of 20,000 people. Children included.
    • by khallow ( 566160 )
      You have to show there is a problem first.
    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      They will. The stupid is strong with these.

      So far they have not managed to kill all of humanity, but they will keep trying until they succeed. I hope that some day we can screen for this type of evil early on and can drown them a birth.

      • So far they have not managed to kill all of humanity, but they will keep trying until they succeed.

        Do you actually believe this, in which case you're insane, or are you simply lying about other people to make yourself seem better?

        I hope that some day we can screen for this type of evil early on and can drown them a birth.

        So killing children is awesome when it advances your political goals. But then what ground do you have to call other people evil for killing people accidentally?

        Seriously, can't you just

    • Except they were. Several workers died while cleaning up the mess.

      • Not from radiation. Its quite hard to run around using full face masks breathing though regulators. Depending on radiation levels people are severely limited in how much time they can spend being exposed to radiation.
        The fact is those standards are quite exaggerated. If radiation exposure limits were relaxed deaths could have been avoided by allowing people to do their jobs in a lesser hurry.
        Tsunami killed 20 thousand people. Forced evacuation in a hurry killed hundreds. If people were allowed to stay in al

    • The tsunami killed 20 thousand people. A nearby oil refinery burned for days, killed dozens polluted the environment just as seriously as the nuclear reactor, but got no attention as nuclear/radiation=sensational, oil fire=boring.
      The problem isn't nuclear its the media that has been bribed by fossil fuel interests to put nuclear power under a microscope while giving fossil fuels a pass.
      Even if Fukushima eventually kills a hundred, it should have been a non event, as coal kills as many people every DAY ! Oil

  • Unless you have a double blind study to point to, why the fuck are you linking to some 3rd-hand article? "A new study says" is meaningless, in this context.
    Don't cite articles and call it news. We have a standard of proof, so follow it or you're part of the misinformation problem.

  • Once it was a standard Item to Equip in your cool backyard or basement buried shelter medical kit.
    Iodine Tablets that protect the thyroid form radiation?
    They knew this in the 50's why aren't the children receiving this now as a precaution? Or is it now considered unsafe?

    • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Friday October 09, 2015 @04:18PM (#50695561) Homepage

      Once it was a standard Item to Equip in your cool backyard or basement buried shelter medical kit.
      Iodine Tablets that protect the thyroid form radiation?
      They knew this in the 50's why aren't the children receiving this now as a precaution? Or is it now considered unsafe?

      They thought about it [save-child...iation.org].

      Dr. Yamashita, former Director of Fukushima Health Mangagement Suryey and a leading figure of thyroid cancer study in the world, has been actively involved in thyroid cancer research in Chernobyl for over 20 years since 1991. Dr. Yamashita was a radiation risk advisor for Fukushima prefecture at the time of the nuclear accident. Despite his experiences in Chernobyl, he assured that distributing iodine tablets to residents in Fukushima, even in the evacuation zones, was unnecessary. However, the distribution of iodine tablets had been discussed within Fukushima Medical University (FMU), especially during the first 1 week after the accident.

      But because no permission was given by the national government and the prefecture, the plan was never carried out. .

      Surprisingly, there was a group of people who took the iodine tablets under the circumstances. They were doctors, nurses, administrative stuff and their children/relatives, and the students of Fukushima Medical University.

  • Correct treatment? Radioactive iodine abalation.

    If only they had some radiation with which to treat those cancers... particularly radiation in shell fish, given shell fish are a common source of iodine.

    Isn't it more likely that avoiding eating fish would account for the difference (assuming there is one, after you control for "suspected cases", and you compare to a relatively unexposed genetically similar population of children elsewhere in Japan, I mean)?

    • One of those things I never understood.. how can arsenic be both a carcinogen, and a commonly used cancer cure?
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Cancer cures are generally (always?) accomplished by killing cancerous cells, they're typically things that are bad for your body which is why they're targeted.

      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        The thing is that current cancer therapies cause cancer. The the risk is just less than 100%, so it is worth it.

  • by codeButcher ( 223668 ) on Friday October 09, 2015 @04:11PM (#50695517)
    "Reserchers"? Seems even the words are not immune to mutations.
  • "Clean, safe, and too cheap to meter."

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...precious modernistic energy and technology!

    The study was released online this week and is being published in the November issue of Epidemiology, produced by the Herndon, Virginia-based International Society for Environmental Epidemiology. The data comes from tests overseen by Fukushima Medical University

    It sounds like that journal has been around for more than 25 years, and the study was done by a PUBLIC medical university. Why should there be such a great bias there to defeat the nuclear industry?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The screening data is from Fukushima Medical University. They are not making these claims. Their data is being used by the "environmental" society you referenced in a biased manner. They used the guise for the Fukushima Medical University to try and claim a peer review, however society study was not. I see they fooled you as well. They are good at that.

  • It's okay, because "nobody died in this nuclear accident".

  • The GOOD news is that most thyroid cancers are treatable and survivable - except for the undifferentiated thyroid carcinoma which will kill you rather quickly and nothing can be done.
  • Rates are 20-50x higher than _normal_, everyone _expected_ a significant increase.

  • Stress does all sorts of bad stuff to you, and the constant stress of having your hometown flooded, irradiated, possibly losing family members and being permanently uprooted can't be good.

  • OMG ! All of this paranoia.
    Radiation level was far too low to actually cause detectable increase in cancer cases.
    I'm positive when this is all said and done, 10 years from now there will be no significant increase in cancer cases and no reason to believe in additional cancer deaths over normal levels.
    Having small cancer formations happen to a lot of people without actually being a 'cancer case'. It could be benign, it could also not evolve into cancer (uncontrolled multiplication of cells).
    Radiation safety

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.

Working...