Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Camp Lejeune: Male breast cancer rates expected to rise

Posted By on Tue, Nov 29, 2011 at 2:24 PM

Will the bad news from Camp Lejeune ever end? Now, it seems, an inordinately high rate of breast cancer among males who lived on the base may soon spike.

In case you're not clued in, here's the summary: The water at Camp Lejeune, "the largest Marine Corps Base on the East Coast," according to its website, was contaminated for decades, and that contamination made people sick.

The U.S. Environmental Protection agency alerted the base to its polluted drinking water problem back in the early 1980s. The problem started in the 1950s and stems from degreasers, dry cleaning solvents and an estimated 70 other chemicals being dumped near drinking water wells. Learn more at "The Few, The Proud, the Forgotten," a website created by Marines for Marines.

In 2009, the U.S. Government finally stopped denying that water pollution on the base has caused grave illnesses in service members, their families and for others exposed to the tainted water. Last year, the U.S. Navy agreed to fund a study, at the urging of a bipartisan group of senators including N.C. Republican Richard Burr and N.C. Democrat Kay Hagan — nearly 30 years after the EPA sounded the alarm.

Some of those health problems include — in children and adults — brain cancer, leukemia, lymphoma and the more than 70 instances of male breast cancer that, according to this report, may represent only a fraction of cases:

Mike Partain was startled two years ago when he tracked down nine former male residents of Camp Lejeune, N.C., who shared an exceedingly rare trait.

A breast cancer diagnosis.

Partain, who was born at the base in 1969 and is himself a breast cancer survivor, would eventually find 73 other men who lived at Lejeune, drank its polluted water and were diagnosed with the disease.

His list may soon get much, much longer.

Federal scientists at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry confirmed last week that 184 male Marine Corps veterans with a history of breast cancer have been identified in Department of Veterans Affairs records.

...

Researchers are not done combing VA records — about 38 percent of the veterans on a VA cancer registry must still be checked. So that tally of 184 male breast cancer cases could substantially increase.

In addition, VA records would not reflect civilians, such as the family members of Marines who lived at Camp Lejeune.

In fact, about a dozen of the 73 people on Partain's list never served in the Corps.

Read the entire St. Petersburg Times article, by William R. Levesque, here.

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