Conservation Council hopes N.B. gov’t will act on report linking cancer to communities

A report linking cancer rates to which part of New Brunswick people live in has just been published in a scientific journal.

Inka Milewski, with the Conservation Council of New Brunswick (CCNB), co-authored the report – Cancer in New Brunswick Communities – in 2009.

But now that Milewski’s research has been published in the occupational and environmental health policy journal “New Solutions,” CCNB is hoping the provincial government will act on the findings.

The council wants the government to track cancer on a community by community basis.

“Where you live matters that cancer rates are not equally high or low across the province, that there are some communities that have significantly higher and significantly lower rates of cancer,” she explains.

Milewski looked for links between industrial activity, lifestyle issues, geology and other factors such as smoking habits.

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“Smoking accounts for about 30, maybe 40, per cent of all cancers,” she says. “The question is what accounts for the other 60 percent.”

She says data about smoking rates in N.B. communities is not available.

But one thing she did find was a higher than normal rate of cancer in men in some communties, which she says was inconsistent with Department of Health statistics.

She suggests occupational exposure may be to blame for the higher rate in four communities: Dalhousie, Belldune, Minto and Harvey.

However, Harvey does not have any sort of industry or manufacuting base; its economy is centred around the transportation sector.

But, she says in the report, the Harvey area is known to have “naturaly high levels of arsenic, radon and uranium,” which can be found in drinking water.

She says no risk assessments or health studies have been conducted in that area.

The head of CCNB, David Coon, says Milewski’s report could help the government identify cancer hot spots and target preventative or treatment programs to specific communities.

The report looked at 14 cancers in 14 N.B. communities, examining both rural and urban areas between 1989 and 2005.

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Read the full report below.

*With files from Paul McLaughlin 


 Cancer Report 2 English