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Re: 'Atomic Vets' Death Rates
In a message dated 10/21/99 11:20:29 AM Eastern Daylight Time, firstname.lastname@example.org
<< Subj: 'Atomic Vets' Death Rates
Date: 10/21/99 11:20:29 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: email@example.com (Susan Gawarecki)
Reply-to: <A HREF="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com.
To: firstname.lastname@example.org (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 >>
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,
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.
Director - Radium Experiment Assessment Project -REAP
Phone/FAX: (802) 496-3356
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