disputes new Burnham-On-Sea breast cancer mortality figures
campaigners have this week released new research that claims women
in Burnham-On-Sea have a 43% greater risk of dying from breast
cancer than in other parts of the country - but the findings have
been strongly disputed by NHS Somerset bosses.
study by Professor Chris Busby from Green Audit (pictured below)
focuses on the period 2005-8 and concludes that the figures are
"statistically significant" because Burnham is located
downwind of Hinkley Point nuclear power station.
study, called 'Breast Cancer Mortality in Burnham-On-Sea - An
Update For 2005-2008', states: "Green Audit has carried out
a number of studies of the area downwind and local to the plant
and has established the existence of a breast cancer cluster in
the wards of Burnham-On-Sea which is the largest population centre
directly downwind of the plant and adjacent to the contaminated
mudflats at the mouth of the River Parrett."
appears that the breast cancer cluster identified in the earlier
continues in the most recent data at a slightly reduced, though
the period 2005-2008 there was a 43% excess risk for mortality."
concedes that the figure is lower than the doubling of risk which
was uncovered in a previous study on Burnham breast cancer rates.
Clark, from the Stop Hinkley campaign group, said: "It is
a matter of urgency that a full health audit is done before any
decision is reached by the Environment Agency on EDFs application
for an Environmental Permit to discharge radioactivity into our
environment. How many more studies does it take to make the authorities
wake up? EDF failed to assess the health impacts adequately by
using an obsolete software package to calculate doses in their
discharge permit application and decision-makers appear to be
sleep-walking with regard to health."
added: "One desirable avenue for exploration would be to
have blood samples from both healthy and ill volunteers from Burnham
analysed for chromosome aberrations."
are methodologies that can test for recent as well as retrospective
radiation exposures and reveal the type, be it alpha, beta or
gamma radiation. Blood tests should be offered as a matter of
routine to anyone who becomes sick to aid diagnosis as well as
offer some hope of recompense if radiation exposure is confirmed."
the controversial study has immediately been disputed by health
bosses this week.
Somerset spokesman Paul Courtney told Burnham-On-Sea.com on Tuesday:
"Public health Advisors with NHS Somerset note the comments
and concerns being made by those opposed to the development of
a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, however the Primary
Care Trust has seen no new or compelling evidence to date which
would support campaigners' hypothesis that radioactive pollution
arising from the past operation or the recent decommissioning
of the Hinkley Point is responsible for a statistical increase
in the incidence of breast or any other cancer in the surrounding
Dr Julia Verne, Director of the South West Public Health Observatory,
which is part of the Department of Health, has also previously
disputed Dr Busby's claims. "Statistics on breast cancer
show that incidence is rising in Somerset but this is in line
with the region and the country as a whole. There are many factors
thought to be associated with this, including lifestyle issues.
Breast cancer death rates for Somerset, including Sedgemoor, have
been steadily falling over the last 15 years. When presented with
health statistics it is important to understand that death rates
from breast cancer are influenced not only by the numbers of new
cases but, importantly, by whether patients are diagnosed early
and have access to good quality treatment. Based on my many years
working in the field of public health medicine and my detailed
analysis of local health statistics, I personally would have no
concerns living in or around Burnham and Highbridge, which is
one of the most attractive areas of the Somerset coast."