Slowly, the world is waking up to the realities of Japan’s nuclear catastrophe: this disaster is real. USS Reagan and Fukushima cancer levels are miles above comparative levels. Anna Sablina, cancer researcher, Assistant Professor of the University of Leuven and group leader of Flanders Institute of Biotechnology, discussed the danger of Fukushima disaster impact in an interview with the VoR.
What is the dependence and correlations between cancer and radiation?
Usually cancer is coming due to accumulation of mutation in certain genes and you need at least 5-7 different mutations that are really necessary to trigger cancer development. And any factor that is triggering mutation can of course increase a probability of cancer development. So of course in case of such high radioactive dose and exposure it obviously can increase a probability of cancer development especially thyroid cancer and leukemia.
Is it possible to develop mass cases of cancer due to the radiation exposure?
Yes, obviously yes.
What do you think the impact of the Fukushima disaster could be? How many people do you think would really be suffering in the long term from radiation sickness and even cancer?
We can always compare what people already know about the Chernobyl accident because it is a quite similar situation. And for Chernobyl it was also quite some people, especially people who were directly involved in liquidation of the Chernobyl accident, they really received high doses of radiation and for these people specifically, some of them died just after the Chernobyl accident, after they received high levels of exposure. For these people the rate of cancer was high about only 5 percent. And for the rest of population actually exposure was not as bad because anyway every day we are exposed to natural levels of radiation. So the only problem in the Chernobyl area is a really increased rate of thyroid cancer especially for kids. More than 5,000 kids there diagnosed the thyroid cancer after Chernobyl, so I would say it probably could be the same case as in Japan. And for the rest it is a bit difficult to say, so you really need a long term study to really figure out whether this not-so-high exposure of radiation can really increase the rate of cancer in this area, of people who were exposed to radiation in Japan.
How do you think this Fukushima disaster is different from the previous one? Is it more serious or less serious? When people is drinking water and everything else can they be additionally exposed to radiation? Or it only has to do with those who were directly involved or were in the territory of the plants?
I think most of the time the only people who were directly involved in cleaning up and fixing the accident could have a really increased rate of cancer but for the rest it will be really difficult to say. It could be a slight increase in cancer risk for these people but it will be like really slight risk like no more than 1-2 percents.
source: voice of russia