Lawrence Solomon discusses radiation hormesis

Lawrence Solomon: Japan’s radioactive fallout could have silver lining

Low exposure to the Nagasaki atomic blast resulted in longer lifespans

The immense suffering that the Japanese are enduring in the aftermath of their earthquake and tsunami is now compounded by torment over radiation releases from the Fukushima nuclear plant.

While the torment is understandable, based on the reported amounts of radiation released, it is uncalled for. The evidence from Japan’s populace — inadvertent guinea pigs in the largest radiation experiment ever, in the aftermath of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 — indicates that fears over radiation can be overblown.

Those who survived the immediate atomic blasts but were near Ground Zero died at a high rate from excess exposure to radiation. The tens of thousands more distant from Ground Zero, and who received lower exposures to radiation, did not die in droves. To the contrary, and surprisingly, they outlived their counterparts in the general population who received no exposure to radiation from the blasts.

These findings come from the Atomic Bomb Disease Institute of the Nagasaki University School of Medicine, which has been analyzing the medical records of survivors continuously since 1968. The voluminous records — based in part on the free twice-a-year medical examinations that 83,050 registered Nagasaki survivors received — provided the researchers with a database of 2.5 million examination items to mine. To determine how the survivors fared, the researchers compared the survivors with Japanese men and women of the same age who had not been exposed to radiation. (Financial Post)

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