Asahi Shimbun reported on a study used by the Japan Thyroid Association to try to explain the unusually high thyroid nodule rates found in Fukushima children. What was missed by the media report is a very critical factor of this “study”.
“They compiled records of 2,753 children, age 15 and under, who underwent ultrasound thyroid gland tests at the hospital between 2003 and August this year.”
Before the Fukushima disaster a child would only be sent for an ultrasound scan of their thyroid if thyroid abnormalities or disease were already diagnosed or suspected. This study did not look at a random cohort (group) across the population of children to obtain a true random sampling of children. This study data was a collection of tests done on sick or suspected sick children. This can not be compared to the general population exposed in Fukushima as the Tokyo hospital group is not a true control group or random selection of the population.
A number of known health problems including Hashimoto’s thyroiditis can cause nodules or cysts in the thyroid of the sufferer. Hashmoto’s thyroiditis is an auto-immune condition that is somewhat rare in children, it occurs in about 3% of children. The nodules and cysts that can occur with Hashimoto’s can also shrink with thyroid hormone replacement therapy. The study reporting mentions that some of these children”s nodules shrank, this could be one cause of that. This does not mean the entire cohort tested in Tokyo had Hashimoto’s. It is mentioned as just one example of a condition that could have caused these sick Tokyo children to have an ultrasound of their thyroid ordered by their doctor.
The Japan Thyroid Association was taken over after the Fukushima nuclear disaster by Dr. Yamashita, the controversial doctor running the Fukushima Health Survey, Dr. Yamashita is not an endocrinologist and has been working as a researcher most of his career, not as a practicing doctor. The study the association touted to the media has not been published in any peer reviewed journal and has not been published on their website. This “study” was reported at an annual meeting of the Japan Thyroid Assn. It is also not the only thyroid study as Asahi Shimbun claimed. There was a 2001 study of random healthy children in Nagasaki that looked at thyroid nodule rates. That journal published study found about a 1% nodule rate in healthy children.
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