Postnuclear disaster evacuation and chronic health in adults in Fukushima, Japan: a long-term retrospective analysis

TitlePostnuclear disaster evacuation and chronic health in adults in Fukushima, Japan: a long-term retrospective analysis
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsNomura S., Blangiardo M, Tsubokura M., Ozaki A., Morita T., Hodgson S.
JournalBMJ OpenBMJ Open
Date Published2016
Type of Article10.1136/bmjopen-2015-010080
ISBN Number2044-6055

OBJECTIVE: Japan's 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant incident required the evacuation of over a million people, creating a large displaced population with potentially increased vulnerability in terms of chronic health conditions. We assessed the long-term impact of evacuation on diabetes, hyperlipidaemia and hypertension. PARTICIPANTS: We considered participants in annual public health check-ups from 2008 to 2014, administrated by Minamisoma City and Soma City, located about 10-50 km from the Fukushima nuclear plant. METHODS: Disease risks, measured in terms of pre-incident and post-incident relative risks, were examined and compared between evacuees and non-evacuees/temporary-evacuees. We also constructed logistic regression models to assess the impact of evacuation on the disease risks adjusted for covariates. RESULTS: Data from a total of 6406 individuals aged 40-74 years who participated in the check-ups both at baseline (2008-2010) and in one or more post-incident years were analysed. Regardless of evacuation, significant post-incident increases in risk were observed for diabetes and hyperlipidaemia (relative risk: 1.27-1.60 and 1.12-1.30, respectively, depending on evacuation status and post-incident year). After adjustment for covariates, the increase in hyperlipidaemia was significantly greater among evacuees than among non-evacuees/temporary-evacuees (OR 1.18, 95% CI 1.06 to 1.32, p<0.01). CONCLUSIONS: The singularity of this study is that evacuation following the Fukushima disaster was found to be associated with a small increase in long-term hyperlipidaemia risk in adults. Our findings help identify discussion points on disaster planning, including preparedness, response and recovery measures, applicable to future disasters requiring mass evacuation.