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F.ood & H.ealth : Agri. & Environ. Last Updated: Dec 8th, 2006 - 09:51:55

Pesticides linked to high risk of pediatric cancers
By Ben Wasserman -
Dec 7, 2006, 21:34

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Rare pediatric cancers have been found not so rare in a potato-farming community of 14,000 residents on the western tip of Canada's Prince Edward Island, Global and Mail reported Wednesday Dec. 6.

The cancers, which generally occur to three or four out of a million children, include lymphoma, myeloid leukemia and osteosarcoma. These cancers are usually found in patients who live near a toxic waste site, according to the report.

The farming community is known to be severely polluted with pesticides 80 percent of which is used for potato farming, Globe and Mail reported. Potatoes need up to 19 sprays in a single growing season. Potatoes are among the produce highly contaminated with pesticides in the US, according to the Environmental Working Group.

Early monitoring led the EPI government and the Canadian Cancer Society to believe that the cancer incidence in the community is "slightly higher" than average. The new finding by a doctor named Ron Matsusaki indicates the risk is underestimated.

Dr. Ron Matsusaki, a native Canadian who returned in 2003 to Canada after two decades of medical practice in the US, found two cases of two sarcomas, both bone-related cancers in his hospital within a year, which is highly unusual.

Soon after his return, "he came cross an osteosarcoma that led to the heart-wrenching death of a young girl, several lymphomas, an Ewing's sarcoma, and a number of myeloid leukemia cases, all among children.", according to the report.

Based on what has been observed, the EPI's incidence rate is exceptionally high. At the national average rate, only five or six children are expected to be diagnosed with cancer a year. But according to the Children's Wish Foundation which funds memorable experiences for extremely ill children, there are 20 young cancer patients this year.

The only suspected culprit is believed to be pesticides as there are no other polluters such as industrial facilities in the area. The doctor's finding has triggered EPI to launch a probe and the results are expected late this year.

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