Tonawanda News

The Town

October 10, 2013

Health department recommends cancer monitoring

Final health review report released, further monitoring recommended


Tonawanda News — In one subsection studied, Sheridan Park, the DOH expected to find 268 cases of cancer, but 332 cases were found.

The DOH also found evidence of elevated preterm births and heart defects in newborns, but evidence of elevated major defects was, fortunately, not discovered.

The study found that bladder cancer had statistically significant elevations in the Brookside area for men; total cancers, lung cancer and bladder cancer had statistically significant elevations in Sheridan Park for men and women.

Elevations of uterine cancer in Sheridan Park were also found.

No types of cancer were statistically significantly elevated in Riverside except for lung cancer for women, and in Grand Island, esophageal cancer was statistically significantly elevated among men, and uterine cancer among women.

At a series of public meetings held on the study in February, DOH official James Bowers cautioned the public that the department cannot determine the cause of the illnesses.

Most attendees, however, said they blame Tonawanda Coke, the River Road company found guilty of violating two environmental laws including benzene emissions.

But benzene is only one potential cause, Bowers said, and not the most likely, statistically speaking.

“Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer,” he said at a meeting in February. “And we don’t have any of that data, about lifestyle, diet, exercise ... lung and bladder cancer can be caused by industrial emissions, but it’s hard to say one way or another what actually caused the outcomes.”

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter @JessicaLBagley.

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