Dáil Éireann - Volume 542 - 17 October, 2001
Written Answers. - Cancer Incidence.
Mr. Sargent Mr. Sargent
86. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Public Enterprise the plans which exist to examine the health indicators in human populations exposed to low level radiation following the statistically significant coastal excess cancer risk found by the low level radiation campaign which carried out such an examination in Wales. [24534/01]
Mr. Jacob Mr. Jacob
Minister of State at the Department of Public Enterprise (Mr. Jacob): While epidemiology is primarily a matter for the Department of Health and Children, my Department closely monitors all developments and published research in this area. Before an excess risk of cancer can be attri buted to a particular cause, such as living near the Welsh coast, it would be important to assess the incidence of specific types of cancer and make due allowance for the environmental agents to which the population may have been exposed over the 30 to 40 year latent period associated with most cancers.
In Ireland the most common cancer is NMS – non-melanoma skin cancer – and accounts for one third of all cancers. For males and females there is a significantly above average incidence in counties Kerry and Wicklow, while there is a significantly below average incidence in counties Wexford and Mayo, according to the “Cancer in Ireland, 1994” report. A study of the incidence of childhood leukaemia over the period 1974-1983, commissioned by the Department of Health and published in December 1986, showed that the average annual incidence rate in Ireland of 31 per million children was similar to that in other western populations. No excess of mortality or incidence was apparent on either the east or south coasts of the country.
As far as I am aware the study referred to in the question has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal. The RPII monitors low level radiation exposure of the public in Ireland. The National Cancer Registry Board monitors the incidence of cancer by type and by geographical distribution. No association between exposure and cancer distribution has been observed.
Dáil Éireann 542 Written Answers. Cancer Incidence.