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WHO Fukushima Health Effects Report

Posted: Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:20 pm
by Fedya Rovic
A new report was just released from the World Health organization, see below, on the same day that the Japanese government decided the restart of their nukes. In summary, in terms of specific cancers (for people in the most contaminated location), the estimated increased risks over what would normally be expected are:
  • - all solid cancers - around 4% in females exposed as infants

    - breast cancer - around 6% in females exposed as infants

    - leukemia - around 7% in males exposed as infants

    - thyroid cancer - up to 70% in females exposed as infants (the normally expected risk of thyroid cancer in females over lifetime is 0.75% and the additional lifetime risk assessed for females exposed as infants in the most affected location is 0.50%)
I am uploading the whole 175+ page report. below.

Re: WHO Fukushima Health Effects Report

Posted: Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:38 pm
by HowardE
Fedya Rovic wrote: - thyroid cancer - up to 70% in females exposed as infants (the normally expected risk of thyroid cancer in females over lifetime is 0.75% and the additional lifetime risk assessed for females exposed as infants in the most affected location is 0.50%)
I just downloaded the report and haven't gone through it, but I saw some articles describing the conclusions of the report as,

...the WHO concluded that the predicted risks from radiation at Fukushima's Daiichi plant "are low and no observable increases in cancer rates above baseline rates are anticipated."

I am wondering, since when is a 70% increase in cancer risk is considered "low"? Are you serious?

Fedya, I know that this is not your report and these are not *your* conclusions, but would you care to comment on that?

Re: WHO Fukushima Health Effects Report

Posted: Fri Mar 01, 2013 4:28 pm
by Fedya Rovic
Howarde, I am not an MD, or an epidemiologist. Like everything else in life, we have to presume that the results have been reviewed and reviewed again, before being published. If we had to individually verify *every* number we see published, (a) the world would grind to a stop and (b) most of us would draw the wrong conclusions, since we do not have expertise in all fields.

Having said that, the most probable reason that the results were interpreted/quoted that way is that thyroid cancer mortality is much lower that other cancers. Had the expected rate of, let's say, leukemia, was increased by 70%, the conclusions would have been different, since leukemia mortality is more than an order of magnitude than thyroid. I have attached two graphs with the mentioned mortality difference rates, for the U.S., from the US Mortality Files (CDC). * BTW, these are not mortality rates from radiation exposure, they are total mortality rates - all causes, and they are measured/observed results, not statistical predictions. Hopes this helps.
Female_Leukemia_Faststats.jpg
Female_Leukemia_Faststats.jpg (47.17 KiB) Viewed 5090 times
Female_Thyroid_Faststats.jpg
Female_Thyroid_Faststats.jpg (48.96 KiB) Viewed 5090 times

Re: WHO Fukushima Health Effects Report

Posted: Fri Mar 01, 2013 5:17 pm
by KimChin
HowardE wrote: ...the WHO concluded that the predicted risks from radiation at Fukushima's Daiichi plant "are low and no observable increases in cancer rates above baseline rates are anticipated."
HowardE, I don't know where you saw this reporting, or if what you posted was a direct quote from the report. I think Fedya's explanation as to why that might be so, is fairly logical, but it could also be a poor selections of words by those writing the report, in the last sentence you quoted. I, like Fedya, am not an epidemiologist, so if any of our friends here are more knowledgeable on the subject and have any detail they want to share with us, it would be great!

Re: WHO Fukushima Health Effects Report

Posted: Fri Mar 01, 2013 6:59 pm
by HowardE
Still, a 70% increase of anything is still a 70% increase, no matter how you look at it, and it cannot be considered minor or trivial.

I have read through a good part of the report and what strikes me is the uncertainty of all those measurements :-( I would have thought that after all these years the industry would have matured enough to collect "good" data, especially after Chernobyl, where the Russians were criticised of not having in place a mechanism for collecting such valuable data!

Re: WHO Fukushima Health Effects Report

Posted: Sat Mar 02, 2013 6:21 pm
by KimChin
HowardE, it precisely because of the ability of the industry to collect *more* data nowadays that the conclusions in the report are deemed preliminary with uncertainties! The amount of data available, in particular as it pertains to dose/exposure measurements, is so voluminous that making sense and analyzing all of it is big effort.

I am sure we will be seeing analysis of the data for many years to come (we are still seeing analysis of Chernobyl data that happened many years ago).

Furthermore, some of the effects, because of the exposure, will not manifest themselves until many years down the line, and at that time the results of earlier analysis, which are based on statistical model predictions, will be revised.

You'd be better served if you had questions about specific aspects of the report. People here might be more inclined to help :-)

Re: WHO Fukushima Health Effects Report

Posted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 3:05 am
by dhimmer
Fedya Rovic wrote:Having said that, the most probable reason that the results were interpreted/quoted that way is that thyroid cancer mortality is much lower that other cancers. Had the expected rate of, let's say, leukemia, was increased by 70%, the conclusions would have been different, since leukemia mortality is more than an order of magnitude than thyroid. I have attached two graphs with the mentioned mortality difference rates, for the U.S., from the US Mortality Files (CDC). * BTW, these are not mortality rates from radiation exposure, they are total mortality rates - all causes, and they are measured/observed results, not statistical predictions. Hopes this helps.
Fedya, the WHO report and the first summary you posted talked about occurrence, but the subsequent graphs talk about Mortality, so the comparison is apples and oranges, which adds to the confusion of an already confusing and complex matter :-(

Re: WHO Fukushima Health Effects Report

Posted: Mon Mar 04, 2013 2:31 am
by Fedya Rovic
I was trying to make a point as to possibly why a 70% increase (from 0.75% to 1.25% over lifetime) for thyroid cancer incidence was not deemed as importance because of the lower mortality rate from thyroid cancers, relative to other cancers.

I guess I missed the mark. Sorry :(