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You are here News Environment Fukushima's children at centre of debate over rates of thyroid cancer

Fukushima's children at centre of debate over rates of thyroid cancer

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Fukushia childrenWhen doctors found several tiny nodules on his 12-year-old daughter's thyroid gland, Toshiyuki Kamei refused to let parental fear get the better of him. The symptoms are not uncommon, and the probability that they will develop into something more serious is low.

Yet Kamei can be forgiven for occasional moments of doubt: his daughter, Ayako, is one of almost 400,000 children who were living in Fukushima on 11 March 2011 – the start of the world's worst nuclear accident for a quarter of a century.

"As a parent, of course I worry, but my daughter is taking it in her stride," said Kamei, who lives in Iwaki, a city about 40km (25 miles) south of the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. "She doesn't tell me if it's on her mind, and I've decided not to ask her about it."

Three years after the plant suffered a triple meltdown that released huge quantities of radiation into the atmosphere, medical authorities in Fukushima prefecture are reporting a significant rise in the number of thyroid cancer cases among local children and young adults.

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