18| Nuclear Testing, Power Plants and a Breast Cancer Epidemic (excerpt)

The anguish of the Gulf War veterans suffering from the ravages of DU is only a small part of the damage exacted by the American nuclear addiction. A cumulated total of twenty million premature deaths can be attributed to the post-war interaction of both chemical and radioactive pollutants.

Dr. Jay M. Gould

The illnesses affecting veterans of the Gulf War are all symptomatic of the same immune system deficiencies that have affected the atomic veterans deliberately exposed to the Nevada nuclear bomb tests, Native American miners exposed to uranium dust and indeed the many millions of victims who since the birth of the nuclear age in 1945 have inhaled or ingested radioactive fission products never before encountered in nature. When uranium and strontium-90 are ingested—especially because they have long half-lives—both have immediate and delayed adverse effects on the immune system's response capabilities. These effects were clearly indicated by classified animal experiments conducted by American nuclear scientists as far back as 1943.

The name for this condition is low-level radiation, which has little relation to background radiation from natural causes such as cosmic rays and radioactive minerals in the soil. Over the course of countless millennia, human immune defenses have developed the capacity to resist cancer from such natural sources, only to be overwhelmed in 1945 by the sudden introduction into a previously pristine atmosphere of huge amounts of man-made radiation.

The Department of Energy has recently admitted that in the haste to produce plutonium for the first atomic bombs, the Hanford nuclear weapons complex released 550,000 curies of radioactive iodine in 1945. In terms of picocuries, the unit now used to measure radioactivity in a liter of milk or water, this means that in 1945, one-hundred-fifty million Americans were unwittingly exposed to more than four billion picocuries per-capita of this lethal radionuclide, comparable to releases from the Chernobyl accident—the worst in human history.

This was followed by two decades of atmospheric bomb tests recently estimated by the Natural Resources Defense Council to be equivalent to exploding forty thousand Hiroshima bombs. The effects of this testing were revealed by a sudden epidemic increase in cancer among children five to nine years old. Since 1945, female breast cancer incidence has nearly tripled, and we have established that a significant number of the eighty million baby boomers born in the bomb-test years 1945 to 1965—literally the worst time in history—did in fact subsequently display evidences of the damage to hormonal and immune systems sustained in utero.

We can show that in the period 1945-1965 there had indeed been an anomalous forty percent increase in underweight live births, perfectly correlated with the rise in strontium-90 found in human bone and especially in baby teeth. In fact, it was the concern expressed by mothers, as in the Women's Strike for Peace movement that helped prod President John Kennedy and Premier Nikita Khrushchev to finally terminate above-ground nuclear tests in 1963. There was a brief period of improvement thereafter until fallout from civilian power reactors replaced bomb-test fallout, especially after the Three-Mile-Island and Chernobyl accidents of 1979 and 1986. Since 1979, the ominous rise in the percentage of underweight live births that first surfaced in 1945 has resumed.


The full text of this chapter is available in the book, Metal of Dishonor. Link here for order information.




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