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Survivors Of WWII A-Bombings To Be Tested As Part Of Historic Research Effort

TORRANCE ( — As part of a historic effort to learn more about the long-term effects of radiation, doctors in Torrance are working with local survivors of the atomic bombings of Japan in World War II.

The survivors, who now live in Southern California, will be examined by Japanese and American doctors Saturday at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center in Torrance.

Since the 1970s, they've been taking part in a long-term study on radiation effects.

An estimated 200,000 people died from blasts, burns, and radiation during and after the 1945 U.S. bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

One survivor, 86-year-old Kaz Suyeishi, told CBS2's Kara Finnstrom that her home was destroyed and her family members were seriously hurt in the bombings.

"My father [had] third-degree burns. My brother lost a lot of blood. I [had] broken bones all over. My mother's also," she explained.

Now, Suyeishi is one of about 400 atomic bombing survivors in the U.S. taking part in historic research into the long-term effects of nuclear blasts. For 18 years, Japanese-American research
teams have been monitoring her health.

The hospital says studies show survivors have high rates of cancer and illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and benign uterine tumors.

The research at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center is being combined with research conducted across Japan.

"They come here and take their blood and the physical examination and they take the data back to Hiroshima," said Dr. Fred Sakurai, a researcher.

Sakurai helped found the effort. His brother is a survivor who has battled three kinds of cancer.

The team hopes the research will also help doctors currently treating those impacted by Japan's 2011 tsunami disaster. Immediately after the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown, thousands were exposed to radiation.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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