Dioxin triggered 20,000 additional cancers
Ghent cancer specialist Nik Van Larebeke is claiming that the 1999 dioxin in food scandal had a greater impact on Belgian public health than initially thought.
Nik Van Larebeke told VRT News that dioxins are among the substances that are most likely to cause cancer in the world. Scientific research shows us the amounts of dioxins that people ingested before and during the dioxin scandal. Research from 2004 and 2011 when the same group of people was tested allows us to see the impact the dioxin had.
Nik Van Larebeke sees a clear picture: "We noticed that women who had greater levels of dioxin in their blood developed more cancers. Greater levels of diabetes and high blood pressure were recorded in men and women."
According to this cancer specialist the average Fleming's chance of developing diabetes rose by 2.5 percent as a result of the dioxin scandal. High blood pressure levels rose by 0.9% and cancer in women is up 1.8 percent.
Nik Van Larebeke concedes that it's difficult to find an accurate picture of causal link between the dioxin scandal and the prevalence of cancer: "At present it's impossible to calculate the exact figures. Still to me it's clear that the scandal led to thousands of instances of serious diseases."
In addition to the 20,000 additional cancers in women the scandal is being blamed for 22,000 cases of diabetes and 24,000 cases of high blood pressure. The cancer expert notes that at the time Belgian politicians played down the impact on public health suggesting it was practically nil. He believes that contamination wasn't adequately addressed at the time.