DR.TSUBOKURA'S RADIATION LECTURE VOL.169

Author: Masaharu Tsubokura M.D., PhD.

Editor: Yudai Kaneda


337  Changes in living environment: Impact on health

24 July 2021

In March of this year, the latest report from the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation was released. The report indicates little possibility of an increase in cancer, including thyroid cancer, exists because of radiation exposure. On the other hand, the psychological and health effects of the change in living environment were enormous.


 Some lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), and obesity, as well as psychological effects, were challenges immediately after the nuclear accident, but have since improved, whereas others are still challenges 10 years later. However, each of these diseases is not the only impact on health.


 One of the most important health impacts was the deterioration of access to hospitals and medical care. For example, the rate of access to important cancer screenings, such as colorectal cancer, dropped in some areas that experienced evacuation.


 Cancer screening is aimed at detecting and treating the disease at an early stage through regular checkups. Originally, in some areas, the problem with some cancer screenings is that the screening rate is low, but if the screening rate is further reduced from there, the disease will be detected later.


 Although a bit indirect, reduced screenings are one of the health effects associated with the nuclear accident and this remains a challenge today as well, with the onslaught of new coronavirus infections.



338  Decreased support from surroundings, delays in receiving medical examinations

31 July 2021

In March of this year, the latest report from the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation indicated the possibility of an increase in cancer associated with radiation exposure is low. The report stated, “The number of people who have been affected by the earthquake and tsunami has been increasing. On the other hand, the effects on health, such as psychological effects and lifestyle-related diseases due to changes in the living environment, were enormous.” However, these outcomes were not the only impact on health.



 One of the most important health impacts was the deterioration of access to hospitals and medical care. In one area of Hamadori, we found that after the nuclear accident, breast cancer patients were seen in hospitals with more advanced disease than was seen before the accident. Despite the presence of symptoms, the patients were delayed in visiting hospitals compared to before. A closer look reveals that the cause was not because the hospital was closed but because patients had less support from their surroundings and lost the incentive to visit the hospital.


 When it comes to access, there is simply no foot traffic, or hospitals are closed or not available, but other reasons come to mind. Our health depends on support from the surrounding community. This is equally true today with the onslaught of new coronavirus infections.


 

The Japanese version of the manuscript was originally published in Fukushima Minyu, a local newspaper in Fukushima prefecture, Japan, on 24 and 31 July 2021 were reproduced for MRIC Global under the author's permission.

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