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Re: 'Atomic Vets' Death Rates

In a message dated 10/21/99 11:20:29 AM Eastern Daylight Time, loc@icx.net 

<< Subj:     'Atomic Vets' Death Rates
 Date:  10/21/99 11:20:29 AM Eastern Daylight Time
 From:  loc@icx.net (Susan Gawarecki)
 Sender:    radsafe@romulus.ehs.uiuc.edu
 Reply-to:  <A HREF="mailto:radsafe@romulus.ehs.uiuc.edu";>radsafe@romulus.ehs.
 To:    radsafe@romulus.ehs.uiuc.edu (Multiple recipients of list)
 The following announcement was released yesterday.  In reading it, I am
 left wondering if treatment of naval personnel for sinus problems using
 radium sources (apparently a common occurrence at that time) may have
 confounded the nasal cancer results.  At any rate, I thought the info
 would be of interest to RadSafers.
 My own opinions,
 Susan Gawarecki >>
Dear Radsafers:
The use of Nasal Radium Irradiation [NRI] from 1944 forward in the US 
military was primarily confined to Navy submariner trainees, some Naval and 
Marine aviators, and in no fewer than 6,800 Army Air Force crewmembers 
treated with NRI during 1944-45 in an experimental "Aerotitis Media Control 

The suggestion by Susan Gawarecki about NRI use contributing to an observed 
excess of nasal cancer among "atomic vets" does not appear to be very 
probable. Too few of the overall veteran population studied in the IOM study 
would ever have received NRI to be a significant contributor to any observed 
excess. Submariners, and aviators did not populate the atomic vet cohort to 
any major degree.

Enabling legislation enacted by Congress late last year for the VA did make 
naval [primarily submariners], naval flyers, army aviators or crewmembers, 
and air force personnel who received NRI and developed "head or neck cancer" 
eligible for examination, and treatment at a VA or nursing home facility 
[thyroid disease is not covered]. However, in the case of the civilian NRI 
treated population, the CDC has not acted to provide even the most minimal of 
medical notice and screening recommendations to the US public, despite 
studies by Sandler, 1980 and Yeh, 1997 showing excess thyroid disease, head 
and neck cancer, and brain cancer among children  treated with NRI. The CDC 
estimates that between 590,000 and 2,600,000 children received NRI treatment 
from 1946 to 1961 alone. The treatment continued into the 1970s in some 
areas, especially Maryland where it had become quite entrenched among the 
medical community largely due to the influence of Johns Hopkins in training 
so many physicians about the use of NRI, due to it having been developed 

Anyone wishing detailed references and background information on the NRI 
issue is referred to the Radium Experiment Assessment Project [REAP] website, 
noted below.

Also, regarding the veteran IOM study and excess nasal cancer, studies 
conducted to date of children treated with NRI have not shown any significant 
excess of nasal cancer despite rather substantial contact doses to the 
nasopharynx [in excess of 20 Gy]. 

Excess nasal cancer in the general population of atomic vets may be due to 
some environmental exposure [smoking, viral exposure to some vets while 
serving in the Pacific where Nasopharyngeal cancer is much more common, etc.] 
but it is unlikely to be due to NRI.

Stewart Farber
Director - Radium Experiment Assessment Project -REAP

E-mail: RadiumProj@cs.com
Phone/FAX: (802) 496-3356

Website: http://www.delphi.com/carsreap

The Radium Experiment Assessment Project is a project of the Center for
Atomic Radiation Studies, Inc., a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization.
Contributions are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.

The RADSAFE Frequently Asked Questions list, archives and subscription
information can be accessed at http://www.ehs.uiuc.edu/~rad/radsafe.html