Terra dei Fuochi: cadmium, mercury and heavy metals in the blood of Giuliano's cancer patients

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Carlos Laforet Coll
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One study found higher blood levels of heavy metals in cancer patients residing in the Land of Fires

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Cancer patients in Giugliano in Campania, in the middle of the Terra dei Fuochi, have high levels of heavy metals in their blood.

This is what emerged from a study recently published in the Journal of Cellular Physiology, which analyzed the blood concentrations of cadmium, mercury and other metals in cancer patients residing in the eastern area of ​​the Campania region, where they were illegal dumping and burning of waste is documented.

Although a causal link between toxic waste exposure and increased disease incidence has not yet been established, an association between the two is suspected.
A incorrect waste management in fact, it can release heavy metals into the environment and the link between exposure to these metals and tumor development has long been known.

Through this study, the researchers therefore carried out a first investigation on potential harmful effects on health human exposure to toxic waste.

In this pilot study, the researchers evaluated the blood levels of heavy metals toxic and persistent organic pollutants in 95 patients suffering from different types of cancer: of these, 85 were resident in different areas of the region and 10 came from Giugliano. The results were compared with each other and with those found in 27 healthy individuals.

From the analyzes, it emerged that cancer patients residing in some municipalities where numerous illegal waste disposal sites have been documented, including Giugliano, presented high blood concentrations of heavy metals compared to healthy subjects.

“Our analyzes showed that in Giugliano's patients, blood levels of Cadmium and Mercury, as well as those of general metals, were statistically higher than in healthy controls,” commented Professor Antonio Giordano, who led the study.

Although this is only a first exploratory study, preliminary observations encourage further research to evaluate the possible association between exposure to hazardous waste, increased concentrations of metals in the blood and an increased risk of getting cancer.

"Considering that heavy metals can be released into the environment due to incorrect waste management and given that Giugliano is known to have many illegal waste disposal sites (data reported by the regional environmental protection agency, ARPA Campania and the Legambiente association) our data could provide further support to the possible association between exposure to hazardous waste and increased risk of cancer development.
Furthermore, these observations are in line with a previous study on cancer mortality in 3 municipalities of Campania, including Giugliano.
This study showed that the death rate from cancer (in particular lung, pleural, bladder, larynx, liver and brain cancers) among the citizens of Giugliano was higher than that reported for the Campania region ”, concluded Giordano.

Read also:

  • Childhood cancers in the Land of Fires: equal to the national average, but doubled in 20 years
  • Terra dei fuochi: the black list of the most polluted municipalities
  • Terra dei Fuochi: after seeing these photos you will never be the same
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