Even the most affected individuals — those who remained in highly contaminated towns within the 20-kilometer evacuation zone for four months following the disaster — only have a faintly higher risk of developing cancer. Last year, the World Health Organization reported a “7% higher risk of leukemia in males exposed as infants, a 6% higher risk of breast cancer in females exposed as infants and a 4% higher risk, overall, of developing solid cancers for females.” The WHO also reported that, for girls exposed as infants, 1.25 out of 100 will develop thyroid cancer, compared to the previous rate of 0.75 out of 100.
By comparison, smoking raises the risk of lung cancer by upwards of 2000%.
Now, a new study from a massive team of Japanese researchers shows that for people living more than twenty kilometers from Fukushima Daiichi, the elevated cancer risk is even more diminutive. Their results are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.