Sunday, September 9, 2012

#Fukushima Health Management Survey Protocol, in Researchers' Own Words

Not much, unfortunately, due to the nature of the paper whose focus is on the protocol, not data analysis.

The Japan Epidemiological Association's official magazine "Journal of Epidemiology" has the paper titled "Study Protocol for the Fukushima Health Management Survey", by Seiji Yasumura et al (including Dr. Shunichi Yamashita).

It is about the health survey on Fukushima residents including children, from which some fantastic stories have been woven and disseminated, including "CONFIRMED: 36 Percent Of Fukushima Kids Have Abnormal Thyroid Growths".

Thyroid examination of children in Fukushima is discussed in some detail in the paper, as, the authors admit, the basic survey response rate is too low to form and present a credible opinion on the health issues. However, the paper does not have the children's thyroid test data, as the paper is clearly about test protocol and methodology.

From the paper's abstract:

Background: The accidents that occurred at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant after the Great East Japan Earthquake on 11 March 2011 have resulted in long-term, ongoing anxiety among the residents of Fukushima, Japan. Soon after the disaster, Fukushima Prefecture launched the Fukushima Health Management Survey to investigate long-term low-dose radiation exposure caused by the accident. Fukushima Medical University took the lead in planning and implementing this survey. The primary purposes of this survey are to monitor the long-term health of residents, promote their future well-being, and confirm whether long-term low-dose radiation exposure has health effects. This report describes the rationale and implementation of the Fukushima Health Management Survey.

: This cohort study enrolled all people living in Fukushima Prefecture after the earthquake and comprises a basic survey and 4 detailed surveys. The basic survey is to estimate levels of external radiation exposure among all 2.05 million residents. It should be noted that internal radiation levels were estimated by Fukushima Prefecture using whole-body counters. The detailed surveys comprise a thyroid ultrasound examination for all Fukushima children aged 18 years or younger, a comprehensive health check for all residents from the evacuation zones, an assessment of mental health and lifestyles of all residents from the evacuation zones, and recording of all pregnancies and births among all women in the prefecture who were pregnant on 11 March. All data have been entered into a database and will be used to support the residents and analyze the health effects of radiation.

Conclusions: The low response rate (<30%) to the basic survey complicates the estimation of health effects. There have been no cases of malignancy to date among 38 114 children who received thyroid ultrasound examinations. The importance of mental health care was revealed by the mental health and lifestyle survey and the pregnancy and birth survey. This long-term large-scale epidemiologic study is expected to provide valuable data in the investigation of the health effects of low-dose radiation and disaster-related stress.

The entire paper is free to download (in PDF) from the Journal of Epidemiology site:

Full Text PDF [3173K]

I may finally finish writing about the "36% of Fukushima children with thyroid abnormalities". For now, I'll just say that the owner of the blog who started the story openly admitted that he/she had chosen not to mention certain facts about the past survey of children in the areas affected by the Chernobyl accident by Dr. Shunichi Yamashita. That deliberate omission ended up casting Dr. Yamashita in even worse light (if that's still possible), but that is of concern to hardly anyone at this point.


Anonymous said...

Hi there,

Here the hint guy that always gives *hintos*,ok?

Thanks again for all your hard work. I was wondering if you can add a link of the following site where everyone can click on it:

Fukushima Voice (no personal interest-agenda)

You have a great number of readers so adding a link to this site might help creating an awareness of the conditions that kids in Fukushima are subject to.

Thank in advance for considering this...


Anonymous said...

The quality of the ultrasound operators..and the equipment is very very important. If not trained correctly, the studies may miss or mis-report health status. Equipment is also important. Does anyone have those kind of details in regards to the tests runs on the children of Fukushima? Since from the outset, we seem to see Japan health officals trying to downplay the serious nature of the radiation, we should certainly consider the testing was not optimal. To have found cysts in the high numbers--it was likely the best case.

The children should have been given KI orally to protect their thyroids. However, use of KI is generally for a onetime event, not for ongoing events for years. Not sure what the answer is for this situation. Evacuation, like many Japanase government officials did for their families maybe?

Nancy said...

Do you know the actual title or where I can find this Yamashita paper on Chernobyl children thyroid issues? I have the Fukushima data (what is publicly available) and Yamashita's 2001 paper from Nagasaki children. I have not seen his Chernobyl data. BTW. any Chernobyl related thyroid data is from years after the accident. There is apparently none collected in the first year or so. So any Chernobyl thyroid data should be taken in context that it shows outcomes from years later.

Nancy said...

Anon @6:45 - Ultrasound equipment is pretty generic. It was reported that it isn't doctors doing the scans but some sort of lab techs they trained to do so. I can't fully confirm this, I heard it 3rd hand from someone familiar with what is going on. If that is the case they would be less skilled than a doctor specialist that does thyroid scans all the time. BTW, there was dispute on the thyroid radiation counts done. Apparently those were done with a simple gamma counter instead of a proper thyroid gamma camera.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Nancy, yes I have links. I will post later.

Anonymous said...

Anon at the top, that's really funny. That blog is the one who spread the incomplete info about the survey, spawning yet another set of fantasies. I don't think the site admin wants to promote that.

Anonymous said...


Yamashita's study from 2001 is the one which includes the Chernobyl data; Nagasaki was only a control group. Try reading it.

Anonymous said...

Just wondering what you (arevamirpal::laprimavera) and others think of Liquid Thorium Fluoride Reactors ?

It does paint a pretty picture of Clean Nuclear Power, with no waste, and the possibility of treating all the stockpiles of Nuclear waste we already have.
It doesn't have any unprofitable by-products, and is completely safe ;-)

Anonymous said...

"Completely safe," where did I hear that one before?

Stock said...

A friend of our family has family members in Fukushima. They are circulating a petition to get more cleanup done.

Please visit and sign the petition. I will have this link stored on a posting at my blog. Simply type Nukepro into a Google search, and then use the search box for "petition"

Anonymous said...

Steveo, "save the fukushima" and pop goes the rest of Japan.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that these folks are petitioning for more PR too (please come to Fukushima, we are working on the health issues). This is hardly the way to go, I believe.

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