An analysis examining more than 100 studies found that the long-term effects of the two atomic bombs used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not as dramatic as initially believed.
However, the two bombs killed more than 200,000 people and left the survivors with a lifetime risk of all types of cancer.
What scientists want now to convey is the fact that the risk of leukemia faded out in ten years after the bombing, and the life expectancy of the people who had been exposed to radiations is just with 1.3 years shorter than the average life expectancy on a national level.
On the other hand, the risk of cancer for the survivors was 42%, which is the same as the risk of cancer for people that are smoking.
Set aside the fact that the atomic bomb is an instrument of war, and it was intended to kill as many people as possible, the radiation that followed had dangerous effects on people but not as horrid as the initial intent to kill had been.
“People are always more afraid of new dangers than familiar ones. For example, people tend to disregard the dangers of coal, both to people who mine it and to the public exposed to atmospheric pollution,” said Bertrand Jordan, the leading author of the study.
The bomb that hit Hiroshima had been named Little Boy and was produced based on plutonium. It killed around 146,000 people in the first few days.
The second bomb targeted Nagasaki three days later. It had the name Fat Man, and it was produced using plutonium. It killed up to 80,000 individuals.
The most immediate deaths occurred because of the blast of the explosion, the firestorm that followed, and acute radiation poisoning.
After the Hiroshima and Nagasaki events, no other nuclear weapons were used in the time of war.
The Radiation Effects Research Foundation was set up just after the war by the two governments of the United States and Japan. The group of researchers monitored the health of 100,000 survivors and their 77,000 offspring.
Each survivor knew exactly their position when the bomb was activated. Thus the exact amount of radiation to which they had been exposed had been precisely measured.
The results showed that there was just a 1.3 years decrease in life expectancy for survivors, and their offspring had low or no risk of mutations or other negative health effects.
While the author of the study declares that he is not a pro-nuclear lobbyist, he also notes that the general opinion that the radiation had extremely powerful effects on health is only statistically true. However, the panic and the horror associated with the nuclear blast are just a subjective perception, because the dangers of the radiations are in fact statistically similar to those of smoking.
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