Oil sands cause cancer, except when they don’t

Looks like another myth has been busted.

Much like other claims made by opponents of oil sands development, shocking stories about higher cancer rates among aboriginals living near such projects are falling apart with close scrutiny.

After reviewing the incidence of cancer in the Fort Chipewyan, Alta., aboriginal community between 1992 and 2011, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. James Talbot, said Monday the overall cancer rate in the community is not significantly higher than elsewhere — 81 cases, compared with 79 that would be expected in the rest of Alberta.

While three types of cancer — cervical cancer (four cases), lung cancer (eight cases) and bile duct cancer (three cases) — are slightly more prevalent, the first two are preventable through vaccination and less smoking, he said. The third is more complicated and has been linked to such risk factors as obesity, diabetes, alcohol, viral hepatitis and family history.

“There isn’t strong evidence for an association between any of these cancers and environmental exposure,” Dr. Talbot told reporters after releasing the report in Edmonton.

The doctor responsible for spreading the notion that the oil sands were causing cancer among aboriginals was a Greenpeace campaigner. He has been rebuked by both Health Canada and the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons.

One thought on “Oil sands cause cancer, except when they don’t

  1. What this Greenpeace campaigner did is what the left calls heroic virtue. I remember Jack Layton calling one doctor “courageous” for suggesting that oil sands development was causing mutations in fish.

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