According to a new report, over one-third of the children in Japan's Fukushima region could be prone to cancer, due to unusually overgrown thyroid glands.
The Sixth Report of Fukushima Prefecture Health Management Survey states that after examining more than 38,000 children from the area, it was found that more than 13,000 have cysts or nodules as large as 5 millimeters on their thyroid glands.
This is a shockingly large number of abnormalities which, experts state, pose a risk of becoming cancerous.
However, Naomi Takagi, an associate professor at Fukushima University Medical School, which administered the tests, stated, "Yes, 35.8 percent of children in the study have lumps or cysts, but this is not the same as cancer."
"We do not know that cause of this, but it is hard to believe that is due to the effects of radiation," she said. "This is an early test and we will only see the effects of radiation exposure after four or five years."
However, other doctors are outraged that these results have not been sufficiently publicized.
Pediatrician, Helen Caldecott, says, "The data should be made available. And they should be consulting with international experts ASAP. And the lesions on the ultrasounds should all be biopsied, and they're not being biopsied. And if they're not being biopsied, then that's ultimately medical irresponsibility. Because if some of these children have cancer and they're not treated, they're going to die."
Business Insider contacted Dr. Bryan Haugen, president-elect of the American Thyroid Association and head of endocrinology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Haugen said he hadn't heard of the report before their contact. He agrees with Caldicott's assessment that it is surprising for children to "have this many nodules and cysts seen, especially this soon after the accident," and the fact that "this is something that is not more widely known."
The report comes from a series of long-term tests of children under the age of 18, where thyroid examinations were first conducted in October 2011. The tests will be carried out every two years until the child reaches the age of 20, and then every five years for the rest of their lives.
The Telegraph is reporting that, in comparison, an analysis done by the Japan Thyroid Association in 2001 found that zero per cent of children in Nagasaki, which was hit by a nuclear attack in August 1945, had nodules of this nature, and only 0.8% had cysts on their thyroids.
However, a second report, issued by Japan's Institute of Radiological Sciences, claims that some children living close to the plant were exposed to “lifetime” doses of radiation to their thyroid glands.