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Monday, December 19, 2011

14,000 U.S. Deaths Due To Fukushima??

That's the new headline.

Things to notice:

It's authored by anti-nuclear activists.

The headline says "Medical Journal Article...".  That's a stretch.  Here is a description of the Journal:

"The Journal contains articles on health and social policy, political economy and sociology, history and philosophy, ethics and law in the areas of health and health care. The Journal provides analysis of developments in the health and social sectors of every area of the world, including relevant scholarly articles, position papers, and stimulating debates about the most controversial issues of the day. It is of interest to health professionals and social scientists interested in the many different facets of health, disease, and health care."

So the claim that, "This is the first peer-reviewed study published in a medical journal documenting the health hazards of Fukushima", isn't as meaningful as if it had been published in a more appropriate journal, like Health Physics Journal, Journal Of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, etc.  There is big difference in the kinds of expertise required to review an epidemiological study and that needed to analyze policy matters. 

The fact that the authors chose to publish in a expertise-poor journal instead of one which is expertise-rich is telling.

The article says the paper will be available online by 11:00 a.m. EST, but it's unclear if they mean today or tomorrow.  It's not showing up now (1:35 p.m. EST).  So, I'll check tomorrow.

The article compares different death rates 14 weeks after Chernobyl with 14 weeks post-Fukushima with other comparisons.  Comparing estimates to estimates is just comparing estimates.  Not very meaningful.

Some of the other comparisons made don't rule out potential sources of confounding which were examined (which is likely none) so those are meaningless comparisons.

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