Stop Hinkley Press Release

25th April 2006

Burnham breast cancer excess 70% over ten years

Newly released figures show that Burnham North has suffered a seventy percent excess of breast cancer mortality over the decade to 2005.

The Office of National Statistics figures were analysed by Dr Chris Busby from Green Audit, who was commissioned by campaign group Stop Hinkley. Forty one deaths from the illness were recorded over the period when only twenty four would be expected.

The figures show a forty per cent excess of breast cancer mortality in the electoral ward between 2001 and 2005. The already published figures for 1995 to 2000 were double that expected. When added together these statistics show a seventy percent excess over the ten year period 1995 to 2005 with a mere one in a thousand chance of being a coincidence.

The new statistics confirm a worrying trend first discovered in research by Dr Busby in 2000 (1) where Burnham North stood out from 150 Somerset electoral wards studied for cancer deaths with twice the expected number.

In 2002 a doorstep health survey (2) by local group, Parents Concerned About Hinkley, (PCAH) and analysed by Dr Busby also showed breast cancer incidence was 85 percent above average together with excesses of leukaemia, kidney cancer and cervical cancer.

The PCAH survey, considered a breakthrough in community epidemiology, was the subject of a row with the Government body charged with auditing radiation-linked health trends, COMARE (3) who later softened their criticism based on their faulty understanding of the large 1,500 sample size, one third of all the Burnham North residents.

The South West Cancer Intelligence (4) was then prompted to conduct a study which also showed a thirty percent excess of breast cancer registrations between 1990 and 1999. When they added three more years' figures up to 2002 their overall thirteen year pattern still showed a statistically significant 21 percent excess. Although SWCIS attributed this rise to efficient breast cancer screening, campaigners argued that good screening should reduce mortality from the illness which is worryingly excessive.

Dr Busby said: "This clearly shows that the breast cancer cluster in Burnham North is a convincing phenomenon and is clearly, in my opinion, related to releases or a release from Hinkley Point. Since radiation causes cancer through mutation we might expect some effect on infant mortality in the area around Hinkley Point and we are now looking to see if that is the case in a study covering West, Mid and North Somerset ."

Jim Duffy, spokesman for Stop Hinkley said: "The figures speak for themselves and all sorts of white-washing have not stood up to reasoned examination. Some environmental cause is triggering these cancers and logic points to Hinkley's constant sea and air discharges of radioactive particles upwind of the town: a good reason to shut down these crumbling reactors."

Jim Duffy, Stop Hinkley Coordinator, 07968 974805

Notes:

1. Cancer Mortality and Proximity to Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Station, 1995-1998, Dr Chris Busby, Green Audit. 2000. See www.llrc.org .

Dr Chris Busby contact tel: 01970 630215 / 07989 428833

2. Cancer in Burnham North: Results of the PCAH Survey 2002, Dr Chris Busby, Green Audit. www.llrc.org

3. Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment press release 25th November 2003: COMARE statement on Green Audit Occasional Paper 2002/5. www.comare.org.uk

4.Cancer Incidence in Burnham North, Burnham South, Highbridge and Berrow, South West Cancer Iintelligence Service, May 2003, revised September 2003 and extra 3 years' figures added January 2004. www.theswcis.nhs.uk

 

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