Life as an evacuee after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident is a cause of polycythemia: the Fukushima Health Management Survey

Sakai, A.; Ohira, T.; Hosoya, M.; Ohtsuru, A.; Satoh, H.; Kawasaki, Y.; Suzuki, H.; Takahashi, A.; Kobashi, G.; Ozasa, K.; Yasumura, S.; Yamashita, S.; Kamiya, K.; Abe, M.

Bmc Public Health 14: 1318


ISSN/ISBN: 1471-2458
PMID: 25539683
DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-14-1318
Accession: 058215627

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The Great East Japan Earthquake and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster forced people to evacuate their hometowns. Many evacuees from the government-designated evacuation zone were forced to change their lifestyle, diet, exercise, and other personal habits. The Comprehensive Health Check (CHC), 1 of 4 detailed surveys of The Fukushima Health Management Survey (FHMS), was implemented to support the prevention of lifestyle-related disease. The aim of this study was to analyze changes in red blood cell count (RBC), hemoglobin (Hb) levels, and hematocrit (Ht) levels by comparing data from the medical health checkup before and after the disaster in individuals who were 40 years old or older. Subjects in this study were Japanese men and women living in the vicinity of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima prefecture. Annual health checkups with a focus on metabolic syndrome for insured persons/dependents aged 40 or older by Health Care Insurers have been conducted since 2008. All analyses in this study were limited to men and women aged 40-90 years. Changes in RBC, Hb levels, Ht levels, and prevalence of polycythemia before and after the disaster were compared. First, RBC, Hb, and Ht significantly increased in both men and women evacuees. The evacuation was significantly associated with increased Hb levels after adjustment for age, gender, smoking status, excess ethanol intake, BMI, and baseline Hb level (β = 0.16, p < 0.001). Furthermore, the prevalence of polycythemia stratified by smoking status or obesity also increased in the evacuee group. To our knowledge, this is the first report revealing that the evacuation was associated with the risk of polycythemia. This information could be very important for periodic health checkup and lifestyle recommendations for evacuees in the future.