21st October 2010
Five extra Burnham women a year are diagnosed with breast cancer
Two independent professors agree the random chance is 2 million to one against and slam the cancer authorities for their obstructiveness.
Breast cancer diagnoses are 50 percent above national figures in Burnham north and south electoral wards, according to a follow-up study by Professor Chris Busby of Green Audit .
54 extra cases above average were recorded between 1994 and 2004 as confirmed in a review by an independent expert, Professor Derek Pheby, former Director of the South-Western Regional Cancer Registry and member of the Medical Research Council.
The eleven year study used data obtained following a landmark House of Lords ruling in 2008 that allowed ‘incidence' or 'diagnosis' data to be made available to independent researchers. Previously only ‘mortality' data or death rates were available. Incidence data is more helpful in linking environmental causes to health effects as bigger statistics are involved.
Stop Hinkley applied for the figures which the South West Public Health Observatory had previously kept secret but was subsequently forced to supply under the Freedom of Information Act. We then commissioned Professor Busby to analyse the figures.
Over the eleven year period 1994 to 2004, 113 women would have been expected to contract breast cancer. In fact Chris Busby found 167 women were diagnosed: a rate fifty percent higher than normal. According to Professor Pheby, the random chance of this occurrence in the two electoral wards was one in 2 million. The rate in Burnham south was slightly more raised at 60% higher while in Burnham north it was still 40% higher than the national average.
The alarming figures back up several previous health studies by Professor Busby and three reports by Somerset Health Authority in the 1980's.
The South West Public Health Observatory (SWPHO) has always denied the cancer link to Hinkley Point, suggesting at first that his figures were wrong, then that the excesses were random. In a discussion with Professor Busby, health officials at SWPHO suggested that the whole region's breast cancer rate is actually one quarter higher than the national average, thus reducing some of the claimed Burnham excess. But Chris Busby responded that Office of National Statistics national and regional figures confirm the risk at Burnham relative to the national average (Notes attached).
Support from peer-review
In reviewing the report, Professor Derek Pheby formerly from the University of West of England, criticised the region's health officials, saying: "It is outrageous that the ‘Stop Hinkley' campaign had to invoke the Freedom of Information Act, backed by a judgment in the House of Lords, to obtain incidence data from the South West Cancer Intelligence Service." adding, "I am at a loss to understand for what purpose the SWCIS considers it collects data, unless it is to enable scientific investigation by bona fide researchers of important questions of public concern. It should not be deploying considerable sums of public money in order that the data it collects should disappear into a black hole."
He went on to ponder whether the obstructiveness had a financial motive as the cost of anti-radiation measures might be immense as with his research into radon-linked illness.
On Chris Busby's reputation, which has been repeatedly smeared by the nuclear industry and health officials, Professor Pheby said: " He is a respected scientist of considerable repute, whose views are challenging and who needs to be taken seriously. He, and the Stop Hinkley campaign with whom he has been working, deserve better than to be treated so contemptuously by the SWCIS, particularly in view of the public importance of the issues in which they are engaged."
Professor Pheby states the importance now of a collaboration between the South West Public Health Observatory (formerly the South West Cancer Intelligence Service, SWCIS) and Chris Busby in pin-pointing the location of the cases and discovering which type of breast cancer they each have in order to clarify their link to radiation.
A 2007 infant mortality study, highlighted on BBC West, found a three-fold excess in estuary wards near Hinkley, including Burnham. Perinatal deaths were shown to be six times the average (1).
Earlier studies from 2000 onwards have shown excesses of breast cancer mortality (2) and incidence. The Parents Concerned About Hinkley (PCAH) study was a doorstep survey to find the actual incidence rates which the authorities refused to give up. It showed a significantly raised breast cancer risk, together with other cancer risks (3).
Three Somerset Health Authority studies in 1983, 85 and 87 showed excess child leukaemia in wards near Hinkley (4). A German government-sponsored study in 2007 found a doubling of leukaemia in children living upto 5 kilometres from all 16 nuclear power stations with an observable effect up to 50 kilometres (5).
Jim Duffy, Stop Hinkley Coordinator said: "For years the nuclear industry and health officials have been smearing Professor Busby's work. But luckily he hasn't gone away and is now supported by an eminent professor. With confirmed breast cancer rates like this it would be inhuman to allow Hinkley C to go ahead with its massive outpourings of radio-isotopes. If, as Professor Pheby suggests, the Government secretly accepts the truth of this cancer cluster and refuses to act because it wants nuclear power that would be heartlessly criminal and corrupt."
"Over fifty Burnham families have needlessly lived with this killer disease in the last decade alone. Let's stop the cause of it by snuffing out nuclear power at Hinkley Point."
Report: Breast cancer incidence in Burnham-on-Sea 1994-2004. Further evidence of effects from radioactive discharges from Hinkley Point nuclear power station" Prof Chris Busby, Ulster University. Open link:
Discussion between Prof Chris Busby and Dr Julia Verne of South West Public Health Observatory: Link
Professor Chris Busby contact: 07989 428833
(1) Study on infant deaths near Hinkley: Link
(2) Breast cancer & proximity to Hinkley Point, 2000: Link
(3) PCAH Citizens Epidemiology: Link
(4) Somerset Health Authority Hinkley leukaemia studies: Link
(5) New Scientist on leukaemia clustering near all 16 German nuclear reactors: Link