Japanese Radiation Experts Offer Exams In 10-Year-Old Program
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Six Japanese medical experts announced on Thursday they will once again offer free medical examinations to an estimated 1,000 American survivors of the atomic blasts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
It is the sixth visit since 1977 to the United States by the doctors, whose expenses are paid by the Japanese government.
″It is not so much sickness that people come to us to report, but worry. They are well, but waiting in fear,″ said Dr. Chikako Ito, chief of medicine at Atomic Bomb Survivors Health Management Center in Hiroshima.
An American doctor assisting the medical team, which announced its biannual visit at a news conference at the University of California-San Francisco Medical Center, called for U.S. financial aid to American survivors.
″The United States has not really taken care of its own,″ said Dr. Susan Lambert, director of Dodd Project for Radiation Studies in San Francisco.
Lambert said she is ashamed the government refuses to provide medical care to Japanese-Americans who were trapped in Japan by the outbreak of World War II. Most were second-generation Americans visiting relatives.
In Japan, atomic blast survivors get free medical exams twice a year and free care for all ailments.
Unlike Japanese survivors, no abnormal rates of any diseases have been found among U.S. survivors since the examinations began a decade ago, said Lambert. Only one U.S. survivor is known to have died of cancer, although the doctors do not know if it was radiation-induced.
During the doctors’ last visit in 1985, 12 percent of 339 people examined had no detectable disease.
About 25 percent suffered from hypertension, 20 percent from obesity, 20 percent from hyperlipidemia and 16 percent from heart disease. Lambert said those statistics are not uncommon for people their age.
In Japan, the doctors said major illnesses are much more common among survivors of the devastating blasts that killed 230,000 within days and another 250,000 over the next several decades.
Long-term studies have shown Japanese survivors suffer high rates of blood, lung, thyroid and breast cancers. Studies on chromosomal disorders, genetic damage and shortened life expectancy are still being conducted.
All but 200 of the U.S. survivors reside in the Bay Area. The medical team will also visit Seattle, Los Angeles and Honolulu.