'It’s not a secret that nuclear radiation is dangerous: Not only does it cause cancer, even seemingly small amounts of the stuff can be lethal. Exposure to high enough levels can be deadly in frighteningly short periods of time. But for the survivors of the Fukushima disaster, and those living in surrounding areas, radiation and cancer aren’t the only health concerns. New research has shown that in communities nearest the power plant, cases of type 2 diabetes are on the rise.
Researchers have been analyzing the secondary health effects of the nuclear disaster, which took place seven years ago now. Dr. Masaharu Tsubokura, from the Department of Radiation Protection at Minamisoma Municipal General Hospital in Fukushima, has been working alongside other researchers to better understand the full scope of Fukushima’s health consequences. Their findings indicate both an increase in the number of cases, and a rise in severity of, health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and depression.
Dr. Tsubokura says that the social disruption caused by the evacuation has played an under-reported role on public health. As the research reveals, the elderly in particular have been hardest hit by the disaster — especially when it comes to diabetes. In the wake of Fukushima, “diabetes trumps radiation as a threat to life expectancy by a factor of 33,” sources say.
This is not to say that diabetes is more dangerous than radiation — but the finding shows that the number of people being afflicted by diabetes post-disaster is surprisingly high. The risk of type 2 diabetes, and poor diabetes management, as an indirect effect of the nuclear spill is substantial.'
Read more: The Fukushima legacy: More than just cancer, diabetes diagnoses have increased six-fold
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