Fukushima residents at higher risk of cancer
People in the area worst affected by Japan's Fukushima nuclear accident two years ago have a higher risk of developing certain cancers, the World Health Organisation has said.
A magnitude 9 earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, killed nearly 19,000 people and devastated the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, spewing radiation and forcing about 160,000 people to flee their homes.
It was the worst nuclear accident since a reactor exploded at the Chernobyl power plant in Ukraine in 1986.
"A breakdown of data, based on age, gender and proximity to the plant, does show a higher cancer risk for those located in the most contaminated parts," Dr Maria Neira, WHO director for public health and environment, said.
The agency said for the general population in Japan the predicted health risks were low. But it was not able to say how many people were exposed in the area where the highest amount of radioactive material was released.
In the most contaminated area, the WHO estimated that there was a 70pc higher risk of females exposed as infants developing thyroid cancer over their lifetime.
But experts said the overall risk was small. The radiation exposure means about 1.25 out of every 100 girls in the area could develop thyroid cancer, instead of the natural rate of about 0.75pc.
But there was no discernible increase in health risks outside Japan, the WHO said.