Blood Cell Counts Low in Fukushima Monkeys

Wild primates living near the site of 2011’s tsunami-spawned nuclear disaster are showing physiological signs of radiation exposure.

By | July 29, 2014

Japanese macaques were likely exposed to radiation by eating cesium-laced tree bark.WIKIMEDIA, ALPSDAKEJapanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) living about 70 kilometers (43 miles) from the ill-fated Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which melted down after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that rocked Japan’s coast, have radioactive cesium in their muscle tissue and fewer blood cells than monkeys living farther away from the site, according to a new study. A team of scientists led by Shin-ichi Hayama of the Nippon Veterinary and Life Science University in Tokyo compared blood and muscle samples from 61 monkeys living in Fukushima City to samples from 31 monkeys that lived about 400 kilometers (249 miles) away, in Shimokita. Their results appeared in Scientific Reports last week (July 24).

Hayama and his collaborators found that the Fukushima macaques had detectable levels of radiocesium in their muscles, plus had fewer white and red blood cell counts and less hemoglobin than the Shimokita monkeys, but had similar levels of platelets and body fat. Hayama and his coauthors suggested that studying these apparent physiological effects on the primates might help researchers understand the impacts of the disaster on human health. “This first data from non-human primates—the closest taxonomic relatives of humans—should make a notable contribution to future research on the health effects of radiation exposure in humans,” Hayama told The Guardian.

But Geraldine Thomas of Imperial College London disagreed. “Unfortunately, this is yet another paper with insufficient power to distinguish real effects and relevance to human health,” she told the Guardian. “We know that one of the most damaging health effects comes from fear of radiation, not radiation itself.” She added that humans avoided eating food grown in the vicinity of the breached power plant, when the monkeys could not, which likely affected the nonhuman primates’ exposure to radiation.

Add a Comment

Avatar of: You

You

Processing...
Processing...

Sign In with your LabX Media Group Passport to leave a comment

Not a member? Register Now!

LabX Media Group Passport Logo

Popular Now

  1. UC Berkeley Receives CRISPR Patent in Europe
    Daily News UC Berkeley Receives CRISPR Patent in Europe

    The European Patent Office will grant patent rights over the use of CRISPR in all cell types to a University of California team, contrasting with a recent decision in the U.S.

  2. DNA Replication Errors Contribute to Cancer Risk
  3. Should Healthy People Have Their Exomes Sequenced?
    Daily News Should Healthy People Have Their Exomes Sequenced?

    With its announced launch of a whole-exome sequencing service for apparently healthy individuals, Ambry Genetics is the latest company to enter this growing market. But whether these services are useful for most people remains up for debate.  

  4. Rethinking a Cancer Drug Target
    Daily News Rethinking a Cancer Drug Target

    The results of a CRISPR-Cas9 study suggest that MELK—a protein thought to play a critical role in cancer—is not necessary for cancer cell survival.

Business Birmingham