Friday, March 5, 2010

Iraq: rise in cancer, birth defects

BC researcher probes soaring Iraq cancer rates
Vancouver Sun: A researcher from Simon Fraser University is investigating childhood leukemia in southern Iraq, where the rate of the blood cancer in some areas is now four times that of neighbouring Kuwait...

Depleted uranium is only weakly radioactive, but the toxic metal is very widely distributed when it is used in armour-piercing shells. The uranium completely disintegrates and burns when it penetrates armour, [Tim] Takaro said. 'We know from Hiroshima and Nagasaki (the sites of American atomic bomb attacks in 1945) that ionizing radiation causes leukemia.'

BBC News: Six years after the intense fighting began in the Iraqi town of Fallujah between US forces and Sunni insurgents, there is a disturbingly large number of cases of birth defects in the town...

We heard many times that officials in Fallujah had warned women that they should not have children. We went to a clinic for the disabled, and were given details of dozens upon dozens of children with serious birth defects. One photograph I saw showed a newborn baby with three heads. While we were at the clinic, people kept arriving with children who were suffering major problems -- a little girl with only one arm, several children who were paralysed, and another girl with a spinal condition so bad I asked my cameraman not to film her.

We went to a house where three children, all under six, were suffering from birth defects. Two boys were partially paralysed, and their sister clearly had serious brain damage. Like all the other parents we spoke to, their mother had no doubt that the American attacks were responsible.

Outside a man who had heard we were there had brought his four-year-old daughter to show us. She had six fingers on each hand, and six toes on each foot. She was also suffering from a number of other serious health problems. The father told us that the house where they still lived had been hit by an American shell during the fighting in 2004.

BBC News: Doctors in the Iraqi city of Fallujah are reporting a high level of birth defects, with some blaming weapons used by the US after the Iraqi invasion... The level of heart defects among newborn babies is said to be 13 times higher than in Europe... Doctors and parents believe the problem is the highly sophisticated weapons the US troops used in Fallujah six years ago.
Image source here.