Summing up Fukushima

Summing up Fukushima

Summing up Fukushima

Summing up Fukushima

About 60 people died immediately during the actual evacuations in Fukushima Prefecture in March 2011. Between 2011 and 2015, an additional 1,867 people in Fukushima Prefecture died as a result of the evacuations following the nuclear disaster. These deaths were from ill health and suicides.

From the UNSCEAR estimate of 48,000 person Sv, it can be reliably estimated (using a fatal cancer risk factor of 10% per Sv) that about 5,000 fatal cancers will occur in Japan in future from Fukushima’s fallout. This estimate from official data agrees with my own personal estimate using a different methodology.

In sum, the health toll from the Fukushima nuclear disaster is horrendous. At the minimum

  • Over 160,000 people were evacuated most of them permanently.
  • Many cases of post-trauma stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety disorders arising from the evacuations.
  • About 12,000 workers exposed to high levels of radiation, some up to 250 mSv
  • An estimated 5,000 fatal cancers from radiation exposures in future.
  • Plus similar (unquantified) numbers of radiogenic strokes, CVS diseases and hereditary diseases.
  • Between 2011 and 2015, about 2,000 deaths from radiation-related evacuations due to ill-health and suicides.
  • An as yet unquantified number of thyroid cancers.
  • An increased infant mortality rate in 2012 and a decreased number of live births in December 2011.

Non-health effects include

  • 8% of Japan (30,000 sq.km), including parts of Tokyo, contaminated by radioactivity.
  • Economic losses estimated between $300 and $500 billion.

New evidence from Fukushima shows that as many as 2,000 people have died from necessary evacuations, writes Ian Fairlie, while another 5,000 will die from cancer. Future assessments of fatalities from nuclear disasters must include deaths from displacement-induced ill-heath and suicide in addition to those from direct radiation impacts.

“The Fukushima accident is still not over and its ill-effects will linger for a long time into the future … 2,000 Japanese people have already died from the evacuations and another 5,000 are expected to die from future cancers.”

Official data from Fukushima show that nearly 2,000 people died from the effects of evacuations necessary to avoid high radiation exposures from the disaster.

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The uprooting to unfamiliar areas, cutting of family ties, loss of social support networks, disruption, exhaustion, poor physical conditions and disorientation can and do result in many people, in particular older people, dying.

Increased suicide has occurred among younger and older people following the Fukushima evacuations, but the trends are unclear.

A Japanese Cabinet Office report stated that, between March 2011 and July 2014,56 suicides in Fukushima Prefecture were linked to the nuclear accident. This should be taken as a minimum, rather than a maximum, figure.

 

Source:  globalresearch.ca

Smartphone detects blood for parasites

Blood parasite smartphone1

Blood parasite smartphone

The CellScope system films a drop of blood and an app then automatically analyses any movement in the sample to detect the parasites.

The results, published in Science Translational Medicine, showed the device was successful in small trials in Cameroon.

Experts said it marked a fundamental advance in tropical diseases.

Previous efforts to eradicate two parasitic diseases – river blindness and elephantiasis – have been suspended because the treatment can become fatal in some people.

One treatment, the drug ivermectin, is risky in people with high levels of Loa loa worm – the one that can crawl across the surface of the eye – so people need to be screened first.

Automatic

The team in the most recent research, at the University of California, Berkeley, and the US National Institutes of Health, used a modified smartphone to automate the process.

A pindrop of blood was collected and loaded into a handheld box. The phone on top then kicked in.

“With one touch of the screen, the device moves the sample, captures video and automatically analyses the images,” said one of the researchers, Prof Daniel Fletcher.

Rather than attempt to identify the shape of the worm, the software in the phone looks for the movement.

Treat or not?

The software predicts the number of Loa loa parasites in the blood and tells the healthcare workers whether they are suitable for drug treatment.

It means very little training is required, while current screening procedures require someone to be skilled in analysing blood samples by eye.

Early trials in Cameroon of the new approach have been successful and there are now plans to test it on 40,000 people.

Prof Fletcher told the BBC News website: “I’m excited, it offers a new higher-tech approach to dealing with very low-tech problems.”

“There are drugs to treat many neglected tropical diseases, these are problems that should be solved, but there is not the technology to identify people who who need the right drugs.”

It is hoped the same idea could be adapted to test for other infections such as TB, malaria and soil-transmitted parasitic worms or helminths, which include roundworm.

‘Fundamental advance’

Prof Simon Brooker from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, commented: “I think it’s one of the most fundamental advances in neglected tropical diseases in a long time.”

“In the 21st Century we are using 20th Century technology to diagnose these infections, this brings us into the modern world.

Schizophrenia is eight different diseases

Schizophrenia is eight different diseases

Schizophrenia is eight different diseases

 

New research shows that schizophrenia is not a single disease, but a group of eight distinct disorders, each caused by changes in clusters of genes that lead to different sets of symptoms.

The finding sets the stage for scientists to develop better ways to diagnose and treat schizophrenia, a mental illness that can be devastating when not adequately managed, says C. Robert Cloninger, co-author of the study published Monday in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

“We are really opening a new era of psychiatric diagnosis,” says Cloninger, professor of psychiatry and genetics at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Cloninger says he hopes his work will “allow for the development of a personalized diagnosis, opening the door to treating the cause, rather than just the symptoms, of schizophrenia.”

Clonginger and colleagues found that certain genetic profiles matched particular symptoms. While people with one genetic cluster have odd and disorganized speech – what is sometimes called “word salad” – people with another genetic profile hear voices, according to the study, funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Some genetic clusters gave people higher risks of the disease than others, according to the study, which compared the DNA of 4,200 people with schizophrenia to that of 3,800 healthy people.

One set of genetic changes, for example, confers a 95% chance of developing schizophrenia. In the new study, researchers describe a woman with this genetic profile who developed signs of the disorder by age 5, when she taped over the mouths of her dolls to make them stop whispering to her and calling her name. Another patient – whose genetic profile gave her a 71% risk of schizophrenia – experienced a more typical disease course and began hearing voices at age 17.

The average person has less than a 1% risk of developing schizophrenia, Cloninger says.

Psychiatrists such as Stephen Marder describe the the study as a step forward. Today, doctors diagnose patients with mental illness with a process akin to a survey, asking about the person’s family history and symptoms, says Marder, a professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California-Los Angeles.

“It underlines that the way we diagnose schizophrenia is relatively primitive,” Marder says.

Patients may wait years for an accurate diagnosis, and even longer to find treatments that help them without causing intolerable side effects.

Doctors have long known that schizophrenia can run in families, says Robert Freedman, editor in chief of the American Journal of Psychiatry and chair of psychiatry at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. If one identical twin has schizophrenia, for example, there is an 80% chance that the other twin has the disease, as well.

In the past, doctors looked for single genes that might cause schizophrenia, without real success, Freedman says.

The new paper suggests that genes work together like a winning or losing combination of cards in poker, Freedman says. “This shows us that there are some very bad hands out there,” Freedman says.

 In some cases – in which a genetic profile conveys close to a 100% risk of schizophrenia – people may not be able to escape the disease, Cloninger says. But if doctors could predict who is at high risk, they might also be able to tailor an early intervention to help a patient better manage their condition, such as by managing stress.

Doctors don’t yet know why one person with a 70% risk of schizophrenia develops the disease and others don’t, Clonginger says. It’s possible that environment plays a key role, so that child with a supportive family and good nutrition might escape the diagnosis, while someone who experiences great trauma or deprivation might become very ill.

The study also reflects how much has changed in the way that scientists think about the genetic causes of common diseases, Marder says. He notes that diseases caused by a single gene – such as sickle-cell anemia and cystic fibrosis – affect very few people. Most common diseases, such as cancer, are caused by combinations of genes. Even something as apparently simple as height is caused by combinations of genes, he says.

Doctors have known for years that breast cancer is not one disease, for example, but at least half a dozen diseases driven by different genes, says study co-author Igor Zwir, research associate in psychiatry at Washington University. Doctors today have tests to predict a woman’s risk of some types of breast cancer, and other tests that help them select the most effective drugs.

Those sorts of tests could be extremely helpful for people with schizophrenia, who often try two or three drugs before finding one that’s effective, Cloninger says.

“Most treatment today is trial and error,” Cloninger says.

If doctors could pinpoint which drugs could be the most effective, they might be able to use lower doses, producing fewer of the bothersome side effects that lead many patients to stop taking their medication, Cloninger says.

 

Source:  usatoday.com