Risk of thyroid cancer up 70% for those who lived in the shadow of Fukushima

Listen /


Destroyed Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Photo: UNSCEAR/Wolfgang Weiss

People living in areas most contaminated by radiation following the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan in 2011 are likely to have a higher risk of getting cancer.

An assessment by the World Health Organization, or WHO, estimates risks in the general population in Fukushima Prefecture, the rest of Japan and the rest of the world, plus the power plant and emergency workers who may have been exposed during the emergency response.

The assessment shows that the risks for breast cancer can be up to 6% higher than would normally be expected for those living closest to the Fukushima nuclear plant. The risk of leukaemia is 7% higher for certain groups. The increased risk for most other cancers is expected to be low. However for thyroid cancer in females exposed as infants there's a 70% increase in what would normally be expected.

Dr Maria Neira, Director of the Department of Public Health and Environment at WHO says that it's important to remember that these figures still represent a small increase in the expected cancer rate.

"No discernible increase in the health risk from the Fukushima event is expected outside Japan. With respect to Japan, this assessment estimates that the life time risk for some cancers maybe somewhat elevated above the expected baseline rate in certain age and sex groups and in the areas most affected."

The expected risks for people in the second most contaminated location of Fukushima Prefecture, are roughly half of those who were subjected to the highest doses of radiation. For emergency workers, around two-thirds are estimated to have cancer risks in line with the general population, while a third is estimated to have an increased risk.

The report calls for long term continued monitoring and health screening for people who are considered to be most at risk.

Nicki Chadwick, UN Radio, Geneva.

Duration: 2’00″

Filed under Today's News.
UN Radio Daily News Programme
UN Radio Daily News Programme
Updated at 1800 GMT, Monday to Friday
Loading the player ...


  1. Migrant deaths increase globally in 2014
  2. Normalization of US-Cuba relations "heartily" welcomed by UN Chief
  3. Disaster-related deaths in Asia-Pacific rise three-fold in past decade
  4. Young working migrants resented in industrialized countries
  5. Women held for spouses' crimes in South Sudan
  1. Daily News 18 December 2014
  2. "Different approach" needed to support Syrians
  3. Young working migrants resented in industrialized countries
  4. Disaster-related deaths in Asia-Pacific rise three-fold in past decade
  5. Afghan women and children casualties rise in 2013
  6. This is a pivotal moment for Afghanistan, says UN Chief
  7. Return to "normal development agenda" in Afghanistan
  8. Afghan election "opportunity" to engage internationally
  9. Suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan condemned by UN
  10. UN envoy highlights international support to Afghanistan
  11. Senior UN officials condemn attack on journalists in Afghanistan
  12. Afghans urged to show patience and respect for electoral institutions and processes during polls: Ban
  13. UN human rights chief calls for action to end violence against women in Afghanistan
  14. "Significant progress" made in Afghanistan
  15. Envoy affirms UN support for women's participation in Afghanistan elections
  16. Attention needed on sustainable livelihoods in Afghanistan: UN envoy
  17. Afghanistan elections "true historic moment", says UN top envoy
  18. "Abhorrent" Afghanistan suicide bomb attack condemned by UN
  19. Security Council condemns deadly attack in Afghanistan
  20. UN envoy urges Afghans to vote in run-off poll
  21. Afghanistan reports progress and challenges in stamping out violence against women
  22. UN pays respect to four UN staff members killed in Afghanistan
  23. The 2014 elections are at the forefront of political life in Afghanistan: UN envoy
  24. Over 6,000 people flee from Pakistan to Afghanistan


December 2014
« Nov