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Dennis Riches is rather hasty in dismissing professor Gerry Thomas’ expertise in his letter of Oct. 23, “Real radiation threat is to young.” He makes the point that most patients undergoing treatment for tumors die after a few years of treatment — but neglects to focus on the flip side of that statement: Some patients do not die after a few years of treatment. Many of the latter will be younger than most patients who undergo radiation therapy, and so the effects of the treatment can be studied over a long period of time.

Riches’ assertion that Thomas has not mentioned hazards to the young in her statements to the media is completely wrong — she has made statements on the need to protect pregnant women and children from exposure to radiation. She has also made the point that no increase in birth defects have been observed after Chernobyl, and so are very unlikely in Fukushima.

I think we can safely assume that Thomas has some idea of what she is talking about when she states that the most damaging effects of accidents like Chernobyl and Fukushima are psychological. Exaggerated claims from the media and public will probably cause more damage than radiation.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

eamon watters

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