Cancer and the Atom Bomb
Graphs prepared by Statistics Canada show cancer of the lung and lymphatic tissues for the period between 1931 to 1972. Dramatic increases of these
cancers occurred after 1945.
The Blueprint for Tobacco Control (page 10) states that tobacco consumption increased after 1950 and that lung cancer takes about 25 years to show up.
This means that lung cancer deaths should not have increased until the 1970’s or later. Lymphatic cancer has not been “attributed” to tobacco
smoke, but has been directly linked to radiation exposure.
Have doctors caused our cancers and heart diseases?
Until 1920's, lung cancer was extremely rare. When a physician discovered a case, all interns were called because they would not see another case for
years to come. The lung cancer epidemic in the second half of the century increased the lung cancer rate from 4 in 100,000 people to 72 in 100,000 in
1990. Coronary heart diseases also increased dramatically.
Dr. John Gofman, a prominent radiologist who helped to build the first nuclear bombs, concluded that medical irradiation has caused most of the
cancers and coronary heart diseases in the twentieth century. He studied mortality rates from 1940 to 1990 of the entire U.S. population. He found
that the mortality rates for cancers and coronary heart disease increase proportionally with the number of physicians per 100,000 people in each
region, while all other diseases decrease. More physicians in a region means more x-rays to its population. In the case of coronary heart disease, the
cause appears to be radiation-induced mutations in the coronary arteries.
Statistical analysis shows that medical irradiation has caused over a half of all cancers, two thirds of coronary heart diseases, and over 80% of
breast cancers in the US. Dr. Gofman stresses that the radiation from each medical or dental x-ray can be reduced several-fold without sacrificing
accuracy. All x-ray machines should be regularly calibrated and the doses measured. People should refuse unnecessary x-rays.
John W. Gofman, M.D., Ph.D. 1999: Radiation from Medical Procedures in the Pathogenesis of Cancer and Ischemic Heart Disease
Radon - the killer in tobacco
Out of the nearly 4,000 chemicals found in tobacco smoke, only two definite chemical carcinogens have been found - benzopyrine and nitrosamine.
However, the most potent carcinogen in tobacco is radiation from the radioactive products of radon. Polonium-210 is the only component of cigarette
smoke that has produced cancers by itself in laboratory animals by inhalation - tumors appear at a level five times lower than the dose to a heavy
Lung cancer rates among men kept climbing from a rarity in 1930 (4/100,000 per year) to the No. 1 cancer killer in 1980 (72/100,000) in spite of an
almost 20 percent reduction in smoking. But during the same period, the level of polonium-210 in American tobacco had tripled. This coincided with the
increase in the use of phosphate fertilizers by tobacco growers - calcium phosphate ore accumulates uranium and slowly releases radon gas.
As radon decays, its electrically charged daughter products attach themselves to dust particles, which adhere to the sticky hairs on the underside of
tobacco leaves. This leaves a deposit of radioactive polonium and lead on the leaves. Then, the intense localized heat in the burning tip of a
cigarette volatilizes the radioactive metals. While cigarette filters can trap chemical carcinogens, they are ineffective against radioactive
The lungs of a chronic smoker end up with a radioactive lining in a concentration much higher than from residential radon. These particles emit
radiation. Smoking two packs of cigarettes a day imparts a radiation dose by alpha particles of about 1,300 millirem per year. (IEM) For comparison,
the annual radiation dose to the average American from inhaled radon is 200 mrem. However, the radiation dose at the radon "action level" of 4 pCi/L
is roughly equivalent to smoking 10 cigarettes a day.
In addition, polunium-210 is soluble and is circulated through the body to every tissue and cell in levels much higher than from residential radon.
The proof is that it can be found in the blood and urine of smokers. The circulating polonium-210 causes genetic damage and early death from diseases
reminiscent of early radiological pioneers: liver and bladder cancers, stomach ulcers, leukemias, cirrhosis of liver, and cardiovascular diseases.
The Surgeon General C. Everett Koop stated that radioactivity, rather than tar, accounts for at least 90% of all smoking-related lung cancers. The
Center for Disease Control concluded "Americans are exposed to far more radiation from tobacco smoke than from any other source."
Cigarette smoking accounts for 30% of all cancer deaths. Only poor diet rivals tobacco smoke as a cause of cancer in the U.S., causing a comparable
number of fatalities each year. However, the National Cancer Institute, with an annual budget of $500 million, has no active funding for research of
radiation from smoking or residential radon as a cause of lung cancer, presumably, to protect the public from undue fears of radiation.
Dr. Gordon Edwards: Estimating Lung Cancers
Radioactive Polonium in Tobacco, Meat and Dairy
Other articles of interest:
Navajo uranium miners: