* Girls at greater risk of thyroid cancer - report
* Report finds increased risk of breast cancer, leukaemia
* Small additional risk of contracting cancer - expert
* WHO urges further monitoring, health-care follow up
GENEVA, Feb 28 People in the area worst affected
by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident two years ago have a
higher risk of developing certain cancers, the World Health
Organisation said on Thursday.
A magnitude 9 earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011,
killed nearly 19,000 people and devastated the Fukushima Daiichi
nuclear plant, triggering meltdowns, spewing radiation and
forcing about 160,000 people to flee their homes.
It was the worst nuclear accident since a reactor exploded
at the Chernobyl power plant in Ukraine in 1986.
"A breakdown of data, based on age, gender and proximity to
the plant, does show a higher cancer risk for those located in
the most contaminated parts," Dr. Maria Neira, WHO director for
public health and environment, said in a statement.
In the most contaminated area, the WHO estimated that there
was a 70 percent higher risk of females exposed as infants
developing thyroid cancer over their lifetime. The thyroid is
the most exposed organ as radioactive iodine concentrates there
and children are deemed especially vulnerable.
The report estimated that in the most contaminated area
there was a 7 percent higher risk of leukaemia in males exposed
as infants, and a 6 percent higher risk of breast cancer in
females exposed as infants.
The report concluded that for the general population inside
Japan, the predicted health risks were low, but that one-third
of emergency workers were estimated to have increased risk.
But there was no discernible increase in health risks
expected outside Japan, the WHO said in a 200-page report which
was based on a comprehensive assessment by international
Jim Smith, Professor of Environmental Science at the
University of Portsmouth in England, said: "Apart from emergency
workers, the most affected people were those who remained in
some highly contaminated towns and villages to the northwest of
the power station for up to four months before evacuation.
"The report found that these people received a lifetime
radiation dose of up to 50 milli-Sieverts (MSV) and therefore
have a significant, but relatively small, additional risk of
contracting cancer in later life."
He said the average British person receives more than 150
MSV during their lifetime from background radiation.
He said the report did not yet give data on the numbers of
people who received particular radiation doses, so it was not
yet possible to estimate the overall health consequences.
Neira said: "The WHO report underlines the need for
long-term health monitoring of those who are at high risk, along
with the provision of necessary medical follow-up and support
Fukushima operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco)
earlier this month received approval to tap the Japanese
government for 697 billion yen ($7.5 billion) to compensate
those harmed by the disaster, taking the total fund to 3.24