Camp Lejeune Male Breast Cancer Study

Dick Clappwritten by Dick Clapp, DSc MPH
CHE Partner and member of the ATSDR Camp Lejeune Community Assistance Panel

A recent scientific report has shed some light on chemical exposures and breast cancer, this time on male breast cancer in Marines who had spent time at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Last month, the online journal Environmental Health published a study titled “Evaluation of contaminated drinking water and male breast cancer at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina: a case-control study,” by Perri Ruckart, Frank Bove and co-authors at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.  The study was based on information about 71 male breast cancer cases in Marines and 373 controls that were in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) cancer registry and diagnosed between 1995 and May of 2013.  For those subjects who were at Camp Lejeune, it was possible to assign exposure levels to various drinking water contaminants based on previous models developed for mortality studies published earlier.

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U.S. House Passes Camp Lejeune Compensation Bill

Dick Clapp
CHE Partner and  member of the ATSDR Camp Lejeune Community Assistance Panel

This post is reprinted with permission of the author. The original post is on The Pump Handle.

After years of diligent and effective advocacy by former Marines and family members, the House voted on July 31, 2012 in favor of the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act (H.R. 1627). The House version was amended by the Senate and passed earlier in July and the final version now goes on to President Obama for signing into law. The first section of the bill is named after Janey Ensminger, the nine year-old daughter of former Marine Jerry Ensminger, who was conceived and born at Camp Lejeune and lived there until she was diagnosed with leukemia, which subsequently took her life. She was exposed to contaminated drinking water, as were hundreds of thousands of others who lived or worked on the base.

The Act, among other things, provides that the Department of Veterans Affairs will give hospital care and medical services to those veterans and families exposed during the years 1957 to 1987 for a variety of conditions that may have been caused by chemicals such as TCE, PCE, benzene and vinyl chloride in Camp Lejeune drinking water. The House members who spoke in favor of the bill noted that the health studies establishing the link between the water and various diseases are still underway, but the process of setting up medical and hospital care should not wait until those studies are completed. The details of this portion of the Act are still to be worked out by the VA and the affected parties.

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Promoting Health from Camp Lejeune to Cancun

Elise Miller, MEd
Director

Camp Lejeune sounds like a lovely place to spend a summer vacation, right? Fishing, swimming, enjoying the great outdoors. Unfortunately, for a number of US Marines and their families based at Camp Lejeune, NC, their experience has been anything but serene. The reason is not due to harsh training conditions, but to exposures to contaminants in the water. In fact, the camp was the site of what is believed to be the largest drinking water chemical contamination event in US. history. For decades, from the 1950s to the mid to late 1980s, the drinking water contained trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, benzene and other chlorinated chemicals from base activities and leaks from a civilian dry cleaning establishment adjacent to the base. Camp Lejeune was officially listed as a Superfund site in 1989. Now more than 65 cases of male breast cancer have been diagnosed of those who served and lived at Camp Lejeune – a very rare cancer that has been associated with exposures to these chemicals. In addition, a significant number of other cancers, neurological disorders, birth defects and related health conditions have been reported by the Marines and their families who lived there during those decades. We know chemical contamination and environmental injustice, as highlighted on other CHE partner calls, often go hand-in-hand. But even people who are supposed to be highly valued by our country-namely, our military veterans – are also discounted or ignored if they suggest their health problems might be linked to chemical exposures on bases in the US or in combat zones abroad. Marines with male breast cancer? Impossible? Think again.

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