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Dr. Tsubokura's Radiation Lecture Vol.55

Author: Masaharu Tsubokura

Editors: Akihiko Ozaki M.D., Yuki Senoo

109. A balanced lifestyle is important for maintaining health

The extent of the exposure dose determines the impact of radiation on health, which means that you will not have cancer for sure even when you are exposed to radiation to some extent. When the total radiation exposure exceeds approximately 100 millisieverts, a larger amount of exposure leads to a higher risk of developing cancer.

On the other hand, the adverse health effects of smoking and drinking alcohol are comparable to being exposed to several hundred millisieverts of radiation. Thus, a good lifestyle is crucial for maintaining health.

There are four conditions commonly tested today in routine physical examinations: body weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. Having high values for any of these criteria indicates poor health status, such as obesity, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes. When these health conditions are not treated, it will result in rusty blood vessels, organ damage, and decreased blood flow to the heart and brain, and can even lead to the development of cancer or other diseases.

When you have more than one of the four poor health statuses listed above (obesity, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes), the adverse effects will overlap, and health outcomes will be even worse. Furthermore, when you have all four poor health conditions together, it is called the “death quartet.” Let’s manage good health through lifestyle changes.

110. Using the “risk ruler” to recognize health risks

A good lifestyle is crucial for maintaining good health. It could be said that the effects of smoking and drinking on our body are comparable to being exposed to several hundred millisieverts of radiation. Management of lifestyle diseases by controlling body weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels is essential to maintaining health.

Unfortunately, it has been reported that these abovementioned lifestyle diseases worsened in many places after the April 2011 Fukushima earthquake. For example, it has been reported that the number of older people with diabetes in the Soma region has increased by a few percent in the five years following the earthquake. Also, it has been reported that there is an increasing number of patients taking medications for high blood pressure in this region.

When diabetes is not controlled appropriately, it has a significant impact on cancer development as well as on heart and brain vascular diseases. Based on the results of the investigation mentioned above, it is not difficult to imagine that when continuous treatment is interrupted due to a disaster, the overall adverse health effects from lifestyle diseases will be significantly higher than the radiation health effects. Fortunately, it is possible to manage lifestyle-related diseases.

Radiation and lifestyle diseases are among the various risk factors in health and disease. It is vital to have a rough “risk ruler,” which enables you to measure and compare the degree of the health risks (degree of impact) for each condition you have at the same time.


The Japanese version of the manuscript was originally published in Fukushima Minyu, a local newspaper in Fukushima prefecture, Japan, on February 12nd and 19th 2017 was reproduced for MRIC Global under the author's permission.

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