The Fukushima nuclear disaster is unlikely to lead to a rise in people developing cancer as happened after Chernobyl in 1986, even though the most exposed children may face an increased risk, U.N. scientists said Wednesday.

In a major study, the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) said it did not expect "significant changes" in future cancer rates that could be attributed to radiation exposure from the reactor meltdowns.

The amounts of radioactive substances such as iodine-131 released after the 2011 accident were much lower than after Chernobyl, and Japanese authorities also took action to protect people living near the stricken plant, including evacuations.