THYROID CANCER INCREASE NEAR MORUROA, FRENCH POLYNESIA

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PAPEETE, French Polynesia (July 31, 1998 - Radio Australia)---French medical researchers have found a slight increase in the incidence of thyroid cancer among people born near Moruroa Atoll, which they say needs ongoing study.

Radio Australia correspondent Kathy Cronin reports there is no evidence that French atmospheric nuclear tests led to increased cancer rates in French Polynesia as a whole, but a small part of the population may have been affected.

The French Ministry of Defense has released a study which shows no link between above ground tests and cancer rates across all of French Polynesian.

However, Mr. Florent de Vathaire, an epidemiologist who led the study, says for a small part of the population, born during the test period within 500 kilometers (300 miles) of the test site, there has been a slight increase in thyroid cancer.

The numbers are not statistically significant, he said, but should continued to be studied as the population gets older.

France conducted 193 underground and atmospheric nuclear weapons tests in French Polynesia during a 30-year period, 1966 - 1996.

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