MIT Mouse Study Debunked In Journal

SimplyInfo member Peter Melzer submitted a letter to the Environmental Health Perspectives Journal in response to an MIT mouse study released in May 2012. SimplyInfo had previously debunked this study here and here. In his letter he addressed in depth many of the concerns with the study. MIT of course is given the opportunity to respond. Peter raised a number of concerns including:

  • The use of genetically altered FYDR mice for one portion of the study but not the comparison groups.
  • The wide range in the numbers of mice used in the comparison groups.
  • The Tanaka paper shows that a longer time frame might have detected abnormalities
  • That children may have a 3 fold higher risk for damage from radiation as seen in other studies at half the accumulated dose used in the MIT study
  • An inflammatory response may increase the risk for damaged DNA due to a higher cell division rate
  • The MIT study only looked at external radiation when internal radiation may be the bigger risk

Peter also included these comments in group discussion after the letter was published:

“The authors’ contention that Tanaka’s observed increases in chromosomal aberrations were not statistically different among exposure dose rates and from ‘spontaneous’ rates is irrelevant, because the variability of the number of chromosomal aberrations can be expected to be great at such low exposure doses. ‘Spontaneous’ aberrations are events that occur for unknown causes and must be even greater in the field, where exposure varies with the individuals’ circumstances of exposure. Tanaka’s finding that chromosomal aberrations increased statistically significantly with the duration of exposure to low levels of ionizing radiation remains the observation most relevant to the assessment of the health risks related to the exposure to low doses of ionizing radiation.”

“The authors argue that the CT scan children study does not apply because the children were exposed to a series of acute exposures to higher doses, as opposed to chronic low-dose exposure. In actual life, like in Fukushima, children may be exposed acutely to high doses when they happen on hot spots, while roaming about. This is a real possibility. Hence, the CT scan exposure study may pertain to the children of Fukushima as well.”

MIT is expected to respond to any letters to the journal questioning their study. Engelward and Yanch sent in a reply to the journal. Their response is here. MIT admitted that had they run the study longer than five weeks they may have found the damage that Tanaka did. They also appear to again misquote Tanaka and the actual dose rates used in that study. They attempted to claim that DNA repairs might repair fast enough to negate low dose radiation damage but provide no evidence to back this up. MIT also admitted that the study does not account for any internal exposure. Internal exposure is being found to be one of the persistent long term problems in Japan.

What caused the SimplyInfo research team to look at the MIT study in the first place was statements by Jaqueline Yanch, one of the study authors at MIT. Yanch also was co-author of the MIT reply to Peter’s letter. Yanch and MIT made some very over the top proclamations about this study including that it justified not evacuating people in a nuclear disaster. Read more about that here.

A more detailed write up of some of Yanch’s other claims about how people in Fukushima including the workers would not suffer any ill effects can be found here. At the time of the MIT study the NRC began working to change US evacuation zones by shrinking them rather than expanding them.

A huge thanks to Peter Melzer for the well written letter to the Environmental Health Perspectives Journal. Peter contributes to our work here and also his own writing here.

This article would not be possible without the extensive efforts of the SimplyInfo research team
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