France's atomic tests officially linked to cancer

31st July 2006, Comments 0 comments

PAPEETE, French Polynesia, July 31, 2006 (AFP) - Researchers have established a link between France's nuclear tests over the Pacific ocean in the late 1960s and the high incidence of thyroid cancer in Polynesia.

PAPEETE, French Polynesia, July 31, 2006 (AFP) - Researchers have established a link between France's nuclear tests over the Pacific ocean in the late 1960s and the high incidence of thyroid cancer in Polynesia.

The findings by the National Health and Research Institute (INSERM) in Paris were made public late last week by the French territory's president Oscar Temaru.

Temaru read a letter before Polynesia's regional assembly from INSERM director Florent de Vathaire, who said that a study of 239 cases of thyroid cancer revealed a "statistically significant" link with France's atmospheric nuclear tests.

"The relationship is clear ... whatever the age at the moment of irradiation," Vathaire wrote.

Even taking into account other factors known to increase incidence of thyroid cancer among Polynesians, such as obesity, "the coherence and stability of the results are exceptional", he wrote.

Vathaire said it is now "accepted" that French tests increased the number of people with thyroid cancer in Polynesia.

However he added that the number of extra cases is probably limited, with only around 10 instances between 1984 and 2002 definitely linked to the nuclear tests.

France carried out some 40 atmospheric atomic tests in Polynesia from 1966 to 1974. After that its tests were carried out underground.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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