Iraq: Thank you for the Oil, Here is some Cancer

An American soldier in front of an oil-field fire in Iraq

An American soldier in front of an oil-field fire in Iraq

Two US-led wars in Iraq have left behind hundreds of tonnes of depleted uranium munitions and other toxic wastes. Contamination from Depleted Uranium (DU) munitions and other military-related pollution is suspected of causing a sharp rises in congenital birth defects, cancer cases, and other illnesses throughout much of Iraq.

Many prominent doctors and scientists contend that DU contamination is also connected to the recent emergence of diseases that were not previously seen in Iraq, such as new illnesses in the kidney, lungs, and liver, as well as total immune system collapse. DU contamination may also be connected to the steep rise in leukemia, renal, and anemia cases, especially among children, being reported throughout many Iraqi governorates.

There has also been a dramatic jump in miscarriages and premature births among Iraqi women, particularly in areas where heavy US military operations occurred, such as Fallujah.

Official Iraqi government statistics show that, prior to the outbreak of the First Gulf War in 1991, the rate of cancer cases in Iraq was 40 out of 100,000 people. By 1995, it had increased to 800 out of 100,000 people, and, by 2005, it had doubled to at least 1,600 out of 100,000 people. Current estimates show the increasing trend continuing.

As shocking as these statistics are, due to a lack of adequate documentation, research, and reporting of cases, the actual rate of cancer and other diseases is likely to be much higher than even these figures suggest.

“Cancer statistics are hard to come by, since only 50 per cent of the health-care in Iraq is public,” Dr Salah Haddad of the Iraqi Society for Health Administration and Promotion told Al Jazeera. “The other half of our health-care is provided by the private sector, and that sector is deficient in their reporting of statistics. Hence, all of our statistics in Iraq must be multiplied by two. Any official numbers are likely only half of the real number.”

Toxic environments

Dr Haddad believes there is a direct correlation between increasing cancer rates and the amount of bombings carried out by US forces in particular areas.

“My colleagues and I have all noticed an increase in Fallujah of congenital malformations, sterility, and infertility,” he said. “In Fallujah, we have the problem of toxics introduced by American bombardments and the weapons they used, like DU.”

During 2004, the US military carried out two massive military sieges of the city of Fallujah, using large quantities of DU ammunition, as well as white phosphorous.

“We are concerned about the future of our children being exposed to radiation and other toxic materials the US military have introduced into our environment,” Dr Haddad added.

Metal contaminants in war zones originate from bombs and bullets, as well as from other explosive devices. Metals, most importantly lead, uranium, and mercury, are used in the manufacture of munitions, and all of these contribute to birth defects, immunological disorders, and other illnesses.

Studies found increasing numbers of birth defects, especially neural tube defects and congenital heart defects. It also revealed public contamination with two major neurotoxic metals, lead and mercury.

Fallujah babies

Doctors in Fallujah are continuing to witness the aforementioned steep rise in severe congenital birth defects, including children being born with two heads, children born with only one eye, multiple tumors, disfiguring facial and body deformities, and complex nervous system problems.

When the DU munitions explode or strike their targets, they generate “fine metal-containing dust particles as well as DU-containing particles that persist in the environment. These particles can enter the food chain and enter the human body via contaminated food. Toxic particles can also become airborne with the wind and be inhaled by the public. Iraq is prone to frequent sand and dust storms. Continuous public inhalation of toxic materials can lead to cancer. Ingested or inhaled particles that emit alpha radiation can cause cancer.”

Read Full Article Here : Iraq: War’s legacy of cancer

Source : Al Jazeera

In the video below is discussed how the U.S. invasion of Iraq has left behind a legacy of cancer and birth defects suspected of being caused by the U.S. military’s extensive use of depleted uranium and white phosphorus :

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