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Fukushima mothers worried about cancer risk

Thursday, Feb 28, 2013 - 01:30

Feb. 28 - A new report says the risk of cancer is low at a Japanese nuclear site damaged in the earthquake and tsunami two years ago, but local mothers still have serious concerns. Malini Wilkes reports.

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At this kindergarten in Fukushima, Japan, the playground is monitored by a radiation detection device. It's been two years since a massive earthquake and tsunami killed 19-thousand people and damaged a nearby nuclear plant. Local health authorities are monitoring every child for thyroid abnormalities, but for mothers like Makiko Suzuki-- it's not enough. (Soundbite) (Japanese) Mother, Makiko Suzuki, saying: "I want to get another opinion, but it's difficult. Thyroid specialists are really rare. I'd have to travel really far to find a decent doctor who knows all about thyroid cancer." A new World Health Organization report finds females exposed as infants in the most contaminated area could have a 70-percent higher risk of developing thyroid cancer. But the report concludes the overall cancer risk is low, even in the most affected areas. Japanese scientists are trying to calm worried mothers, but admit that more research is needed. (Soundbite) (Japanese) Fukushima Medical University Professor, Shinichi Suzuki, saying: "In the case of Chernobyl, thyroid cancer started to appear four or five years later. It doesn't show up straightaway. Long-term, even more than 25 years on, there are still cases of thyroid cancer appearing in Chernobyl. So whatever we tell mothers right now, they're unlikely to be reassured." Two years after the disaster, Fukushima officials say more than 40-percent of local children have some thyroid abnormalities.

Fukushima mothers worried about cancer risk

Thursday, Feb 28, 2013 - 01:30

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