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March 17 2013

The Cancer from Fukushima (and Hiroshima)

Radioactive debris is deadly and unequivocally carcinogenic. But one of the most surprising things I learned while writing The Cancer Chronicles is how the long-term effects — at Chernobyl and even Hiroshima and Nagasaki — have caused much less cancer than our instincts might lead us to suspect.

People who lived closest to the Fukushima plant will naturally be more effected than others. That is especially true for children, who will have the rest of their lives to accumulate the additional mutations that are a hazard of living on earth. Whether these occur spontaneously or are induced by carcinogens (naturally occurring or artificial), just the right combination can turn a cell malignant. If not stopped by the body’s defenses, it will begin multiplying to form a tumor — or a liquid cancer like leukemia, a clogging profusion of white blood cells. Fukushima will give some of the children a head start on cancer. But not, the report predicts, a very big one.

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