A-Bomb Survivors Undergoing Medical Exams in Torrance

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The medical team from Hiroshima at a press conference at Providence Little Company of May Medical Center in Torrance on Friday. At left are Kaz Suyeishi of the American Society of Hiroshima-Nagasaki A-bomb Survivors; Fred Sakurai, medical director of Providence Medical Institute; and Dr. Jitsuro Yanagida, leader of the medical group, which consists of four doctors and four staff members. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

TORRANCE — More than 100 survivors of the 1945 atomic bombings of  Hiroshima and Nagasaki are undergoing medical exams in Torrance as part of a historic research effort that has stretched for decades.

As the nuclear bomb victims, known as hibakusha, have aged, medical knowledge of the effects of radiation has increased. These findings provide insight into dealing with Japan’s current radiation danger resulting from the 2011 tsunami, which damaged the Fukushima nuclear power plants.

While physicians are concerned about the heightened risk of cancer among hibakusha, studies show they also suffer from high rates of non-cancerous illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and benign uterine tumors.

For several years, Providence and Japanese colleagues have reached out to survivors who now live in the South Bay area and provided extensive medical examinations and counseling.

The mission to monitor and examine the health of the survivors began in 1977 and has occurred every other year in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Honolulu. Discussions are now under way to make the visits annual instead of biennial.

The efforts are supported by the Japanese government’s Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Radiation Effects Research Foundation, and Hiroshima Prefectural Association, and locally by Ningen Dock and the American Society of Hiroshima-Nagasaki A-bomb Survivors.

The examinations are taking place this weekend at the Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Institute, 21311 Madrona Ave., Torrance.

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