Risk of Cancer after Japan Tsunami, Not Going to be Noticeable According to WHO

A group of experts convened by the agency assessed the risk of various cancers based on estimates of how much radiation people at the epicenter of the nuclear disaster received, namely those directly under the plumes of radiation in the most affected communities in Fukushima, a rural agricultural area about 150 miles north of Tokyo.

Some 110,000 people living around the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant were evacuated after the big March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami knocked out the plant’s power and cooling systems, causing meltdowns in three reactors and spewing radiation into the surrounding air, soil and water.

Experts calculated that people in the most affected regions had an additional 4 to 7 percent overall risk of developing cancers, including leukemia and breast cancer. In Japan, men have about a 41 percent lifetime risk of developing cancer of an organ, while a woman’s lifetime risk is about 29 percent. For those most hit by the radiation after Fukushima, their chances of cancer would rise by about 1 percent.

Read the rest of the story: Only slight risk of cancer after Japan tsunami, WHO says.



Himalayan fungus that lead to Gilenya, a new treatment for Multiple Sclerosis

Tetsuro Fujita’s eureka moment with a Himalayan fungus in 1985 may mean part of a $5 billion payout for Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corp. a quarter-century later.

While the scientist drove over a bridge between Shikoku and Honshu on his way to take up a post researching traditional herbal remedies, Fujita realized that the fungus, used in a Chinese medicinal soup, must be suppressing the immune system of the insects on which it grew.

His research at Kyoto University not only helped yield Gilenya, a new treatment for multiple sclerosis — the debilitating condition afflicting more than 2 million people worldwide — but it also promised to bring Mitsubishi Tanabe its biggest money earner. Annual sales of the pill, the first for the autoimmune disease, may exceed $5 billion, UBS AG said.

"Little did I think that it would be a treatment for multiple sclerosis," Fujita, 80, said in an in interview Kyoto. "I was more interested in immune suppression for organ transplants. I knew nothing about the disease back then."

Novartis AG, based in Basel, Switzerland, began selling Gilenya in the U.S. in October. Projected sales of the medicine have it ranked as one of the 10 best-selling drugs worldwide, based on data from IMS Health Inc., a research company based in Norwalk, Conn.

Read the rest of the story: Himalayan fungus feeds Mitsubishi Tanabe windfall.