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Cancer, George Monbiot and Nuclear Weapons Test Fallout

Photo by Blake Burkhart | CC BY 2.0

George Monbiot, who has now been diagnosed with prostate cancer at the young age of 55, was therefore born in 1963, at the peak of the atmospheric test fallout. He is thus a peak exposed (at risk) member of a cohort of those exposed in the womb to the fallout (1959-63) and currently suffering the consequences of exposure to Strontium-90 in the milk, and (measured) in the childrens’ bones.

In his article in the Guardian, he says that he has always done all the healthy things, done lots of exercise, eaten vegetables, didn’t smoke or drink, all that stuff. He is clearly puzzled about being singled out by the three ladies. But the cause was something that he had no control over, and neither had anyone else who was born in the fallout period. George writes that he is happy. This insane response to his predicament, (which I personally am not happy about despite his intemperate attacks on me in his Guardian column and blogs) must go alongside his equally insane response about the Fukushima events where he publicised his road-to-Damascus conversion to nuclear power.

The effect of the genetic damage of the fallout on babies can be seen in the graph below, Fig 1, taken from a recent paper I published (Busby C (2017) Radiochemical Genotoxicity Risk and Absorbed Dose. Res Rep Toxi. Vol.1 No.1:1.).  The babies that did not die were just those with insufficient genetic damage to kill, but this damage would have affected them in later life in various ways. The most measurable effect (apart from genetic defects and congenital diseases) is higher cancer risk which is presented as early cancer onset. The issue of the 1959-63 cancer cohort was discussed in my 1995 book Wings of Death, and a letter I published in 1994 in the British Medical Journal (BMJ). The issue is one of Absorbed Dose. If internal exposure to radionuclides like Strontium-90 and Uranium-238 and Uranium-235 bind to DNA, which is the target for genetic damage, then Dose, which is an average quantity over kilograms of tissue, is an unsafe way of quantifying genetic damage. The issue of genetic damage from radioactive pollution was first raised in 1950 by Herman Muller, the Nobel Prize winning geneticist who discovered the effects of radiation, but his warnings were ignored, though they are now found to be accurate.

The serious effects of internal radionuclide exposures on Prostate Cancer were revealed in a study of UK Atomic Energy Agency workers also published in 1993 in the BMJ (Fraser P, Carpenter L, Maconochie N, Higgins C, Booth M and Beral V (1993) Cancer mortality and morbidity in employees of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority 1946-86. Brit. J. Cancer 67 615-624.) This paper showed a 2-fold excess cancer risk in workers who had been monitored for internal radionuclides versus those who had not been.  Prostate cancer mortality was significantly high. Although later cover-up studies by the nuclear industry, using a larger cohort reduced this effect for prostate cancer, the internal/ external exposure result for all cancers has not been satisfactorily followed up.

Fig 1. First day neonatal mortality USA shows the effects of the fallout. Because of advances in medicine and better social conditions, infant mortality was falling everywhere. But as soon as the atmospheric tests began, rates went up in time with the fallout. 1st day neonatal mortality is a measure of congenital damage: the baby survives in the mother by using the mothers’ oxygenation and other support but because the babies own organs are damaged and it cannot survive after birth. Strontium-90 was measured in bone where it built up to a peak in 1964. It will also have attached to chromosomes due to its affinity for DNA.

The fallout cohort is now entering the cancer bracket and these people are driving up the cancer rates in the Northern hemisphere, especially for breast cancer and prostate cancer. I have been studying this group since 1995, but now my predictions are appearing in the data.

But the true picture of the fallout effects is even more scary. Not only are the babies born over the peak fallout period, like George, at higher risk of more and earlier cancer, but it is now emerging that their children, born around 1980- 1990 are carrying the same genetic (or rather genomic) curse. I am in the process of putting together a scientific paper on this. There is a sudden increase in cancer rates in young people aged 25-35 which began after 2008. This is an extraordinary development. The finding was confirmed for colon cancer in the USA in a paper published recently in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (Rebecca L. Siegel, Stacey A. Fedewa, William F. Anderson, Kimberly D. Miller, Jiemin Ma, Philip S. Rosenberg, Ahmedin Jemal Colorectal Cancer Incidence Patterns in the United States, 1974–2013 JNCI J Natl Cancer Inst (2017) 109(8): djw322). The authors were unable to explain their findings of increases in colon cancer in young people but decreasing colon cancer rates in older people. They were “puzzled”. The explanation is simple. These were children born to those who were themselves born during the fallout and genomically damaged at birth. The damage is passed to the children (and will be in turn passed to theirs and so on). The effect is clear also in the England and Wales data.

So, for the logical positivists, let’s have a look at the prostate cancer data in England and Wales.

In Table 1 below I show some data from the official ONS government annual reports on prostate cancer incidence in some selected years from 1974 to 2015.

 

No argument there then. The amazing thing is that there are huge amounts of money received and spent on cancer research: but no-one looks at the cause. Or rather that those who do look at the cause are attacked and marginalised and their work is not reported.

For example, and relevant here, are the serious genetic effects of small dose internal exposures in Europe after Chernobyl reviewed by Prof Inge Schmitz-Feuerhake, Dr Sebastian Pflugbeil and myself in a peer review publication in 2016 (Schmitz-Feuerhake, Busby C, Pflugbeil P  Genetic Radiation Risks-A Neglected Topic in the Low Dose Debate. Environmental Health and Toxicology.  2016. 31Article ID e2016001. .) You would think that this evidence, which was reported in the peer review literature from 20 studies from countries all over Europe, might make it into one of the newspapers. But nothing.

My attempts to draw attention to these internal genetic damage issues have also been ignored or dismissed by the British establishment. This year, in September, I was to have presented this evidence to British Government Minister Richard Harrington at a meeting of the NGOs and the government at Church House Westminster. My flight from Sweden was sabotaged but I made it to the meeting nevertheless, to find that the Minister had made some excuse, and had not come. )

At the meeting, the government radiation expert committee members (COMARE) refused to consider anything I said.

This behaviour by the British can be compared with the Swedish Environmental Court in Stockholm to which I had been presenting the same findings the previous week. In January 2018, the 8 judges of the Swedish Court told the Swedish government that they must not permit the development of the nuclear waste facility at Forsmark. This landmark decision was also omitted from any newspapers in the UK, which itself is currently busy trying to find a local council they can bribe to allow them to bury nuclear waste somewhere in England and (more probably) Wales.

When I presented the same genetic damage evidence in the nuclear test veteran case in the Royal Courts of Justice in 2016, I submitted reports by 4 eminent radiation experts, including Prof Schmitz-Feuerhake/ All gave evidence under cross examination.  We filed the evidence of genetic damage in the Test Veteran children: a 10-fold excess risk for congenital malformations and in the grandchildren 8-fold. The British Judge, Sir Nicholas Blake, refused to listen to any of this evidence and dismissed our experts. Blake found for the Ministry of Defence. I am taking a new Test Veteran case this summer. We shall see what happens.

But no surprise about judge Blake. In a recent survey of judges in Europe, it was found that Britain was only exceeded by Albania in the percentage of judges (45%) who reported that their decisions had been made at the direction of the establishment. The lowest rates of interference with judges was found (1%)  in—guess where—Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

It seems that we live in a corrupt society here in Britain and I am ashamed to be part of this State which has poisoned its citizens consistently since 1945 and continues to do so, and to cover it all up, aided by dishonest scientists and celebrity reporters like George Monbiot. Those who have a magical view of events might delight in thinking that George has received his just due; for myself I just hope that this may make him look into the issue more deeply and change his mind about the effects of radioactive contamination.

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Dr Chris Busby is the Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Riskand the author of Uranium and Health – The Health Effects of Exposure to Uranium and Uranium Weapons Fallout (Documents of the ECRR 2010 No 2, Brussels, 2010). For details and current CV see chrisbusbyexposed.org. For accounts of his work see greenaudit.orgllrc.org and nuclearjustice.org.

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