DNA ANALYSIS TO DETERMINE IMPACT OF NUKE BLAST ON KIN OF VICTIMS
Hundreds of Japanese atomic bomb survivors, known as hibakusha, and their children are planning to undergo genome analysis to determine whether exposure to the radiation from the 1945 blasts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki has impacted health further down the line, a research facility said recently.
The study by the Japan-US joint organization Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF), located in the two Japanese cities, will look into the DNA of around 900 families, Kyodo news agency reported. The study is also expected to shed light on the effects on those caught up in nuclear reactor meltdowns or with occupational exposure to radiation and their descendants. Previously conducted research has not found a genetic link between survivors' exposure and their children's risks of dying from cancer, developing lifestyle diseases, or the likelihood of birth defects. And the researchers in the foundation's study say there is a low probability of finding serious gene mutations.
Nevertheless, "if we can get society to properly understand the risks, (the study) can reduce the anxiety experienced by those hibakusha and the second generation who suffer from discrimination and prejudice," said RERF Chairman Ohtsura Niwa.
There are an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 second-generation hibakusha in Japan alone, with some claiming illnesses caused by inherited health ramifications from their parents' exposure. However, they are not eligible for the health care benefits provided for atomic bomb survivors by the state, due to lack of evidence that the parents can pass down ailments genetically.