Both the great Truths and the great Falsehoods of the twentieth century lie hidden in the arcane, widely inaccessible, and seemingly mundane domain of the radiation sciences

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Trial of the Cult of Nuclearists: Exhibit C continued

What follows is the continuation, in serial form, of a central chapter from my book
A Primer in the Art of Deception: The Cult of Nuclearists, Uranium Weapons and Fraudulent Science.

Exhibit C continued

In his book Wolves of Water, Chris Busby recounts information gathered by Kate Dewes who visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 2001 and interviewed a number of female Hibakushas, the “explosion-affected people.” As a woman relating to other women, Dewes gained firsthand knowledge of significant flaws in the Life Span Study. In Japan, the Hibakushas are stigmatized. As a consequence, many carry with them feelings of shame. Further, many attempt to hide their experience, or if second generation, the experience of their parents, for fear that association with the bombing will interfere with their opportunity for employment, marriage, and having children. These obstacles to forthright communication are compounded by the fact that as women, they are reticent to speak with male researchers or doctors on “sensitive issues” regarding their health. With this said, a number of women reported to Dewes that they knew of women who had given birth to deformed and intellectually handicapped children who then hid them away so as not to be discovered. More importantly, women reported that researchers frequently did not inquire about their menstruation, fertility, history of miscarriages, and birth outcomes. These revelations are astounding. To an unknown degree, the data from Japan is incomplete. Radiation effects occurred which were hidden from researchers. This would have skewed the results of the Life Span Study toward underestimating the true risks from radiation exposure.
While in Japan, Dewes became privy to other information regarding gross birth abnormalities. These effects are absent from the Life Span Study. According to the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission, there was no increase in the incidence of birth defects among children whose parents were exposed to the blasts [1]. Dewes reports differently:

"After the bombings, midwives in Hiroshima and Nagasaki became very concerned about the number of deformed babies being born. In the September 1954 issue of Health and Midwifery, it was reported that about 30,150 births were observed in Nagasaki from 1 January 1950 to 31 December 1953:

'Before the bomb was dropped the proportion of abnormal children to those born healthy was very low, but in the nine years since the bomb was dropped this proportion has changed enormously. Of 30,150 babies born, 471 were stillborn and 181 were abortions. Of those born alive, 3,630 were abnormal and the abnormality was divided as follows:
* 1046 children suffered from degeneration of the bone, muscle, skin or nervous system * 429 from deformation of organs of smell and hearing * 254 from malformation of lip and tongue * 59 had a cleft palate * 243 suffered from malformation of the inner organs * 47 from deformation of the brain * 25 children were born without a brain * 8 without eyes and sockets of the eyes'" [2].

While traveling with women who were visiting Japan from the Marshall Islands, Dewes heard stories of women who, after being exposed to fallout from the Bravo nuclear test in 1954, gave birth to “jellyfish babies” and “bunches of purple grapes.” During her travels, Dewes heard stories of identical types of birth outcomes experienced by the Hibakushas. For those who have the stomach for it, images of these hideously deformed types of babies, if that’s the right word for them, can be found on the internet, born to women in Iraq after that country was contaminated with depleted uranium.

An interesting historical fact is worth interjecting at this point which gives some perspective on the political forces at work behind the Hiroshima Life Span Study. Many of the Japanese researchers conducting the study were pardoned war criminals who did research in biological warfare and conducted hideous experiments on captured Chinese in Manchuria. They were granted immunity by the US Army in exchange for the results of their experiments. Rosalie Bertell has briefly recounted this history:

"Interestingly, the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC) and its successor organization, the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF), has, since the beginning, collaborated with the Japanese National Institute of Health (JNIH). ABCC was set up by the occupying force in September 1945. Their Japanese partner was responsible for hiring and firing all Japanese scientists who worked on the A-bomb data, although the US assumed singular control of all of the dose assignments once they were available.

The JNIH was actually established by the order of the US Forces (Lindee), staffed with scientists from the Institute of Infectious Disease (IID) attached to the University of Tokyo, and containing most of the leading medical scientists from the Japanese Biological Warfare (BW) Institutions and the infamous Unit 731, which was responsible for the gross experimentations with humans in Manchuria during World War II (Williams and Wallace). The Japanese scientists who engaged in biological warfare experiments on live human beings, allegedly including allied prisoners of war, were granted immunity by the US Army from investigation for war crimes in return for the results of their experiments.

Kobayashi Rokuzo, advisor to the IID laboratory was attached to the Japanese Army's Medical College headquarters of the BW network, was Director of JNIH from 5/47 to 3/55. His Vice-Director for the same term was Kojima Saburo, who had intensively cooperated with BW Unit 1644 in the vivisection of humans at Nanking, and with the IID unit during the occupation of China. The Director of the JNIH from 3/55 to 4/58 was Komiya Yoshitaka, who was a member of the Institute of Health in Central China during the occupation, part of the BW network of hospitals run by the Military Police. Yanagisawa Ken, Vice-Director from 10/58 to 3/70, conducted experiments on Chinese youths during the occupation, through BW Unit 731. It was through these human experiments that he developed dried BCG, becoming “eminent” in medical circles. The list is much longer, including Directors and Vice-Directors up until 1990, scientists known to have conducted military experiments on humans" [3].

Returning to the subject at hand, the European Committee on Radiation Risk [4] has compiled its own list as to why the Hiroshima research is totally incapable of providing relevant information on the effects of low levels of internal contamination:

1) The Hiroshima study includes an inappropriate control population. Both the study group and controls were internally contaminated.

2) Mathematical extrapolation from high doses to low doses fails to account for known cellular processes. The ECRR is highly critical of the methodology of mathematically deriving risks to health created by low doses of radiation from data on high doses. According to their rationale, this process fails to address well-established biological phenomena that have been observed at low doses. To offer just one example here (others will be offered in Exhibit D), at high doses there is a greater likelihood of cell killing among targeted cells while at low doses delivered at a low rate, which occurs from internalized radioactivity, there is a greater likelihood that cells injured by radiation will survive but in a mutated form. As a consequence, cancer incidence from internal exposure to low levels of radiation would be greater than that predicted from a simple linear extrapolation from acute dosages of external radiation.

3) In making extrapolations from an acute one-time exposure, as in the case of Hiroshima, to chronic repetitive low-dose exposures that occur from internally embedded radionuclides undergoing radioactive decay, the ICRP model fails to address the fact that a variation in cell sensitivity is introduced into a cell population after initial exposure. Cells once exposed to radiation exhibit increased sensitivity to alteration following subsequent exposure.

4) The ECRR mentions another major flaw in extrapolating from external to internal exposure. When the bomb detonated over Hiroshima, an enormous barrage of photons was ejected in all directions. Those photons passing through human bodies delivered a homogeneous, whole-body dose of radiation to each victim. While traversing through body cells, each photon followed a single track, creating molecular disruption along its path until its energy was expended. Photons are said to have low LET, linear energy transfer. Along their path, they transfer, “on average,” less energy per micrometer than alpha or beta particles. This has the effect of creating a sparse pattern of ionization through a cell, i.e., ionizing events are spaced further apart along a track compared to the more dense patterns of ionization created by alphas and betas. Consequently, the photons released from the bomb possessed a relatively low probability of multiple tracks intersecting at the same critical structures within the same cell, i.e., the DNA molecules. In contrast, radionuclides within the body’s interior represent a different phenomenon. Cells in close proximity to embedded particles are vulnerable to being repeatedly hit by the tracks of alpha and beta particles ejected during radioactive decay. Further, these particles have high LET. They create a denser pattern of molecular disruption within a cell. Depending on the radionuclide involved, the nuclei of neighboring cells are more likely to be hit by multiple tracks created during critical times in the cell’s life cycle either as a result of multiple hits from atoms of the same radionuclide or from sequential decays of the same atom. As a consequence, internal emitters are more likely to create multiple tracks through the same cell’s nucleus and create more molecular damage in and about the DNA. For this reason, internal radiation will have a much greater chance of altering cell function and inducing mutation than that caused by external radiation. Under this scenario, low doses from internal emitters are vastly more hazardous to cellular well-being than higher doses delivered to cells externally.

5) Currently, the ICRP embraces the model in which biological damage is directly proportional to dosage. Once again this assumption is based on extrapolation from high doses. This is what is called the Linear No-Threshold Hypothesis. Based on the biological response of cells to low doses of radiation, the ECRR holds that this assumption is “patently not true.”

6) The ECRR maintains that the Life Span Study is not representative of other populations of people all over the world. It is an incorrect extrapolation to assume that the findings from Hiroshima are equally valid for all human beings since research has established that different populations manifest different levels of susceptibility to radiation injury.

7) The ECRR also faults the Hiroshima study because the study group is made up of war survivors. This, once again, is an expression of the healthy survivor effect. The Japanese survivors were selected by the pressures of war and the bombing due to their increased resistance, and thus, cannot be suitably compared to populations that have not endured similar stresses.

8) The Life Span Study has built-in inaccuracies due to the fact that it was started too late and missed many of the early deaths caused by radiation. This has had the effect of skewing the statistics to making radiation appear less hazardous than it in fact actually is.

9) The Life Span Study confines itself to the study of radiation-induced “fatal” cancers. Confining itself to this focus, the total health detriment induced in the surviving population is completely ignored. Once again, this misrepresents the true impact of ionizing radiation on human health. In addition to fatal cancers, inheritable damage, and IQ retardation which is considered by the ICRP and other risk agencies, the ECRR advocates inclusion of other health effects including nonfatal cancers, benign neoplasms, infant mortality, birthrate reduction, and low birthweights. General reduction in the quality of life and nonspecific life shortening are further consequences that must be included when evaluating the health effects of radiation exposure.

10) Genetic damage created by the bombing in Japan is modeled on gross abnormalities manifested in births of subsequent generations. The study overlooks more subtle genetic effects that nevertheless may have profound impact on the health of progeny over time.

As if these criticisms were not enough to convince anyone that the results of the Life Span Study are seriously corrupted, two further objections have been raised. One is mentioned by Busby in Wings of Death. He observed a large discrepancy between the cancer statistics published by the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission for the period 1957-8 and those released by the Hiroshima Cancer Registry. According to the ABCC, the incidence of non-leukemia cancers among those survivors who were located within 1,500 meters of the hypocenter of the atomic bomb detonations was 338. In contrast, the Hiroshima Cancer Registry, for the twenty-month period between May of 1957 and December of 1958, reported that the same population had developed 1502 non-leukemia cancers. Adjusting this data for a twelve month period to offer a basis of comparison, Busby derived a figure of 90 non-leukemia cancers. When the incidence of these cancers was compared to the control population, the results were striking:

"Comparison of these two sets of results for the same population, for the same period makes for a curious sense of having fallen through the looking-glass. This feeling is one which is often experienced when attempting to follow published reports relating to the health effects of radiation. The Hiroshima Cancer Registry shows a 400 per cent increase in non-leukemia for the highly exposed group; the ABCC finds only a 30 per cent increase in the highly exposed group. It was the ABCC figures that were used as the basis of risk assessment: no one has ever explained the discrepancy."


[1] Nakamura N. Genetic Effects of Radiation in Atomic-bomb Survivors and Their Children: Past, Present and Future. Journal of Radiation Research. 2006; 47(Supplement):B67-B73.

[2] Busby C. Wolves of Water. Aberystwyth: Green Audit; 2006.

[3] Bertell R. Limitations of the ICRP Recommendations for Worker and Public Protection from Ionizing Radiation. For Presentation at the STOA Workshop: Survey and Evaluation of Criticism of Basic Safety Standards for the Protection of Workers and the Public against Ionizing Radiation. Brussels: European Parliament, February 5, 1998a.

[4] European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR). Recommendations of the European Committee on Radiation Risk: the Health Effects of Ionising Radiation Exposure at Low Doses for Radiation Protection Purposes. Regulators' Edition. Brussels; 2003.