Wednesday, May 30, 2012

#Radioactive Japan: Buddhist Monk and Author in #Fukushima Says "Children Withstand Radiation Much Better than Adults"

The column by Sokyu Genyu, a Zen Buddhist monk (Rinzai-shu) and a published author who lives in Miharu-machi in Fukushima Prefecture, appears on the Sunday paper of Fukushima Minpo.

In the most recent column, Genyu says that children are able to withstand radioactive cesium much better than adults, and the traditional thinking that children are more affected by radiation has proven false by numerous examples in Fukushima Prefecture.

Quick translation (not literal; link added):

Prayer on the Children's Day

by Sokyu Genyu

I feel that we cannot talk frankly about radiation in Fukushima right now. Everyone has formed his/her opinion already based on a certain level of knowledge and won't listen to the new information that may be contradictory. It is the same with the media such as newspapers and TV stations. They have been disseminating various information, and it may be that they cannot write about it at this late stage. They are extremely timid about upsetting the widely-held knowledge.

What is this widely-held knowledge? It is the thinking that children are more affected by radiation exposure than adults. It derives from the experiment whereby the rat cells were irradiated with the massive dose of gamma-ray. The result was that the more immature (undifferentiated) the cells were the more damage were sustained (Bergonié-Tribondeau law). So they reasoned, "it should be the same" with adults and children or low radiation exposure.

It was too coarse an analogy to be called scientific. But recently there are various empirical data that refute this analogy.

For example, Dr. Ryohei Takahashi, OB/GYN doctor in Minami Soma wrote in late November last year, after having observed children who were born after the March 11 disaster: "I know it is considered a taboo, but I have found out that children have more resistance to cesium than adults. They have the capability several times higher than that of adults to repair damaged chromosomes, excrete [radioactive materials in the body] in urine, and in terms of half life at various organs in the body."

Dr. Tsubokura at Minami Soma General Hospital, who has been conducting the WBC (whole body counter) measurement, says that the biological half life of cesium in adults are 100 to 120 days, whereas it is about a month in 6 year olds and 10 days in one year olds.

To begin with, children seldom get cancer. It should be quite easy to see that children has much higher ability to nullify the free radicals and higher immune functions than adults. However, some people have been saying that children are affected by radiation exposure by "manyfold", based on the mere fact that cell divisions are more active in children and on the Bergonié-Tribondeau law.

It is true that if this widely-held knowledge is overturned, there may be a big confusion.

People who have evacuated from Fukushima have done so "for the sake of their children", and they have endured hardship. The very basis of their decision to evacuate would disappear. Calculations for compensations are based on the premise that children are more affected. [The bottom of the next sentence is cut off, but I think it is something like] It would take a great amount of time to redo the calculations.

But what's important right now is not to be obstinate and possessed with the idea that things may go bad for children. Rather we should be amazed by the strength of children and accept a new way of looking at the situation. In order to revive the community, we must study this issue intensively.

I kept scratching my head as I translated. The laws of nature may indeed be different in Fukushima. I've seen a bizarre presentation material prepared by someone in Koriyama City that claims that if there are 10 cesium-137 atoms, 5 atoms will decay in 30 years; if there are 10 plutonium-239 atoms, 5 plutonium atoms will decay in 24,000 years, therefore it's nothing to worry about in our lifetime. I may write about this presentation later, but it just boggles my mind that people are persuaded by this kind of talk, particularly in a country that has supposedly risen from the ashes after the World War II because of its technological strength. (I guess it was a nice, overrated myth...)


Anonymous said...

The scientific opinion that children are more sensitive than adults to radioactivity is based on decades of careful long-term studies. Claiming to "overturn" all these studies with just one year of casual observations by one general practitioner? That's plain bullshit.
The sentence "children seldom get cancer" is the most outrageous lie. Following Chernobyl, childhood thyroid cancer rate started to rise within just a few years. Hopefully, the food safety limits that were set in Japan should ensure that no such thing happens now. Hopefully.

Anonymous said...

If what this monk is proclaiming is correct, we should all pray with him for the collapse of the reactor #4 building. Those kids in Koriyama and Fukushima will just have a ball repairing all their body cells!

Chibaguy said...

All I can say is I am just shaking my head. Why would even a newspaper allow this op-ed? They might as well let someone claim the sun orbits the earth.

Anonymous said...

Create confusion and doubt about the science. It is the same tactic that the tobacco industry took in the early years of lung cancer research. anything that confuses will help keep enough of the public on the fence for a few more years so the industry can continue to earn money a while longer.

wake up people.

there's no future in nuclear power.

Anonymous said...

A tip to ExSKF have you read the latest numbers regarding the Power syply in Japan, is it a problem the fact that nuclear sites have been shutted down.

And this muck I have just one thing to say to, and that is the simple fact, that I wil never harm a fly, but with this fellow, I would cladly place my right foot as far up his a... as physicaly possible.
This is flattout lies.
Its a shame to watch corruption in the religious sphers to, what a pity.

Fukushima is Tjernobyl on steroids.

I am afraid, the numbers are faar worse than reported, and even the Daiini and Tokai is beryed in driwell, we simply dont know anything anymore, and all we are feed are some driwell about, SFP4, for months.
SFP4 is sirious, if it goes, you better runn.
Anywhere, but staying inside Japan.

What a pity, a hole Nation, with its history and people, flung down the Abyss, just to save some Shareholders

wake up


Maju said...

It's simple: in Ukraine and Belarus those suffering most of the diseases caused by radiation, often extremely horrible and incapacitating, are children. Adults may get problems but often less obvious and take more time to develop.

But children?! What radiation makes to children has no name: it's Hell on Earth.

That monk is a liar and farce, as so many religious people for whom children are only objects to manipulate and abuse. Sick!

Anonymous said...

What the flying fuck do Buddhist monks know of this type of science anyway? Most don't even know anything about what people go through in daily life, let alone the effects of radiation. Everything in the universe is an "illusion" to them. Well I tell you Mr. Monk that when someone's child gets radiation-enduced cancer, it is the family's utterly devastation that is real and the illusion is your bullshit analysis.

The fact that a child has rapid cell turn over makes their cancer grow ever more quickly that in an adult. Treatment must be aggressive and is usually very painful. Success in overcoming the growth is not good. This is something Mr. Monk has not factored into his highly flawed analysis. Go back to meditating and shut up, you stupid monk.

Anonymous said...

This guy is so full of shit his eyes are brown!

For Release: April 3, 2003

CHICAGO-The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that households within 10 miles of a nuclear power plant keep potassium iodide (KI) on hand to protect the thyroid in the event of an accidental or intentional release of radioactive iodines ("radioiodines") into the environment. Schools and child care facilities within the same radius also should have immediate access to KI. It may be prudent to consider stockpiling KI within a larger radius because of more distant windborne fallout. These are among the recommendations the AAP is releasing to help prevent and minimize damage from harmful levels of radiation in its new policy statement, "Radiation Disasters and Children."

Children are much more vulnerable to the harmful effects of radiation disasters than the general population because their bodies absorb and metabolize substances differently, and because they are more likely to develop certain cancers from such an exposure. They also are closer to the ground, where radioactive fallout settles. In addition to physical harm, children may suffer from loss of parents, separation from their homes, and post-traumatic stress.


Children have a number of vulnerabilities that place them at greater risk of harm after radiation exposure. Because they have a relatively greater minute ventilation compared with adults, children are likely to have greater exposure to radioactive gases (eg, those emitted from a nuclear power plant disaster). Nuclear fallout quickly settles to the ground, resulting in a higher concentration of radioactive material in the space where children most commonly live and breathe. Studies of airborne pollutants are needed to test the long-held belief that the short stature of children brings them into greater contact than adults with fallout as it settles to earth. Radioactive iodine is transmitted to human breast milk, contaminating this valuable source of nutrition to infants. Cow milk, a staple in the diet of most children, can also be quickly contaminated if radioactive material settles onto grazing areas.

In utero exposure to radiation also has important clinical effects, depending on the dose and form of the radiation; transmission of radionuclides across the placenta may occur, depending on the agent. After exposures to external radiation, fetal doses of 0.60 Sv (60 rem) have produced small head size and mental retardation (in Japanese atomic bomb survivors), when exposures occurred between 8 and 25 weeks of gestational age.2 A dose-response effect was found in the occurrence of small head size without mental retardation, which occurred in fetuses exposed to ≥0.2 Sv (≥20 rem) between weeks 4 and 17 of gestation.

Radiation-induced cancers occur more often in children than in adults exposed to the same dose. Finally, children also have mental health vulnerabilities after any type of disaster, with a greater risk of long-term behavioral disturbances.

Q: Aren't children more sensitive to radiation than adults?

A: Yes, because children are growing more rapidly, there are more cells dividing and a greater opportunity for radiation to disrupt the process. EPA's radiation protection standards take into account the differences in the sensitivity due to age and gender.

Fetuses are also highly sensitive to radiation. The resulting effects depend on which systems are developing at the time of exposure.

Anonymous said...

A monk out of his cloister is not worth an oyster.


Anonymous said...

if u take three cases of plants.
first) a full grown plant in normal soil
second) a full grown plant, transplanted into radioactive soil.
third) a germinating seedling.
as we can see in nature, everything has a "normal" size. a human is not 5 meters tall or 50 cm small.
i'll just call this the "growth potential".
it seems obvious, that a germinating plant, still growing, will "deal" with the radioactivity "better" then a transplanted full grown plant.
the growing plants root system will die or stop growing if it touches a radioactive soil particle, but it can still grow in another direction. it "deals" with radioactivity, by growing around it.
so a growing human body might discard of bad "soil intake" (food) and-or discard bad cells.

so a germinating plant (comparable to a growing human) might "withstand" radioactivity in soil better then a full grown plan that was transplanted into radioactive soil.

to be sure, this is not an optimal growth environment and a drain on the "growth potential".

Anonymous said...

@ Anon May 31, 2012 12:56 PM

I experimented with Cesium-137 and plants. Based on work done prior to my experiment, I knew that I should use germinating seeds instead of full grown plants if I wanted to visually observe the most dramatic results. Grown plants may experience DNA damage but they have already reached their growth potential and some of this damage may not be visible (morphological) but will be passed on to the next generations of plants when it propagates (disperses seeds).
Germinating seedlings require functioning DNA to direct the correct growth of the plant. In a child this would be DNA required to construct internal organs, immune systems, enzyme production, etc. So the youngest organism is less likely to grow with systems and structures and capabilities it will need as an adult.
In my experiments with plants, young seedlings would be stunted (never reach adult height, and have malformed leaves (arms and legs in a child?) and they would be sterile - never having successfully developed the structures necessary to produce seeds because the DNA required to do so was damaged first.

Anonymous said...

Children in affected regions are said to suffer from "Chernobyl AIDS" which basically mean that their immune systems are kept so busy attempting to repair their bodies that they can't fight off diseases as well as they should - their immune systems are depressed. To read more about the effects of radiation on Children and Adults, please read the following PDF written by scientists who treat illnesses resulting from Chernobyl contamination.

Anonymous said...

The bouzu is either a criminal or an idiot.

Mike said...

Middle Tennessee State University would be ranked near the bottom of American academic institutions, if they bothered to do rankings that far down the list. It has no intellectual prestige whatsoever. The idea that any action by students or professors at MTSU reflects the thinking or intention of educated Americans is absurd. All the same, I imagine the hearts of the students are in the right place, in that they want to donate their time to help disaster victims.

Anonymous said...

Fact: Radiation distorts chromsomes; this damage is permanent. Fact: Particles inhaled are not nearly as excretable as ingested ones. Whether children's cells are stronger or not is moot, they are not impervious. Fact: Monks serve spiritual needs. Would you want a scientist to conduct temple?

Anonymous said...

@ Anon May 31, 2012 12:56 PM

"it seems obvious"...

Did you get your scientific training from a Buddhist monk? Its anything but obvious and your analysis is a croc. Do you really believe that a plant will avoid radioactive materials? Are all those thyroid cancers in children in the Ukraine an illusion dreamt up by people who don't believe in the magic of mystical monk faith? You are kidding right. It is well established that children sustain more damage than adults no matter what various apologists would like to have others believe.

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