People in the area worst affected by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident two years ago have a higher risk of developing certain cancers, the World Health Organisation said on Thursday.
A 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, killed nearly 19,000 people and devastated the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, triggering meltdowns, spewing radiation and forcing about 160,000 people to flee their homes.
"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 in a statement.
In the most contaminated area, the WHO estimated that there was a 70 percent higher risk of females exposed as infants developing thyroid cancer over their lifetime. The thyroid is the most exposed organ as radioactive iodine concentrates there and children are deemed especially vulnerable.
The report concluded that for the general population inside Japan, the predicted health risks were low, but that one-third of emergency workers were estimated to have increased risk.
But there was no discernible increase in health risks expected outside Japan, the WHO in a 200-page report, which was based on a comprehensive assessment by international experts.