2019 Volume 65 Issue 3 Pages 76-98
Cryptorchidism (undescended testes) is among the most common congenital diseases in male children. Although many factors have been linked to the incidence of cryptorchidism, and testicular androgen plays a key role in its pathogenesis, the cause remains unknown in most cases. Recently, a Japanese group published a speculative paper entitled, “Nationwide increase in cryptorchidism after the Fukushima nuclear accident.” Although the authors implicated radionuclides emitted from the Fukushima accident as contributing to an increased incidence of cryptorchidism, they failed to establish biological plausibility for their hypothesis, and glossed over an abundance of evidence and expert opinion to the contrary. We assessed the adequacy of their study in terms of design setting, data analysis, and its conclusion from various perspectives. Numerous factors must be considered, including genetic, environmental, maternal/fetal, and social factors associated with the reporting of cryptorchidism. Other investigators have established that the doses of external and internal radiation exposure in both Fukushima prefecture and the whole of Japan after the accident are too low to affect testicular descent during fetal periods;thus, a putative association can be theoretically and empirically rejected. Alternative explanations exist for the reported estimates of increased cryptorchidism surgeries in the years following Japan’s 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis. Data from independent sources cast doubt on the extent to which cryptorchidism increased, if at all. In any case, evidence that radionuclides from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant could cause cryptorchidism is lacking.