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  • ESG 1st Press Release on Epid Study Findings

    The ESG would like to issue the first of two reactions to the Epidemiological Study findings made public last Monday. The first is our own internal assessment; the second will be issued once feedback has been received from our public health advisers. The publication of this Epidemiological Study is a result of years of campaigning by the ESG and colleagues across the border and is therefore an achievement in its own right – hopefully the start of further analysis that will bring about greater health potential for our communities.

    The views expressed by Govt and Breast Cancer Support Gibraltar that breast cancer levels are within EU norms as stated in the report does not offer reassurance whatsoever to the ESG and to members of the public who have already expressed a view. In the first place breast cancer incidence is not average for Europe: it is at the top quarter of the range. Secondly, to say that Gibraltar is “average for Europe” (taking all types of cancer into account) is no reassurance if the incidence of cancer in Europe is high.

    The only reassurance would come in knowing that all cancer levels are low to zero within the EU or global range. It is also no reassurance to proceed on the basis that Gibraltar is no different to other modern, sophisticated urbanized countries in Europe, as has been said. That should not be interpreted as excusing, let alone justifying, the perpetuation of preventable causes.

    The report also confirms what our group has known for many years simply because the science is well known that carcinogenic pollutants aggravate and raise cancer risks. Carcinogenic pollutants are also identified in the report as occurring in our community produced from local and nearby sources and we believe the next steps now are for Government to take up the many recommendations made by the Danish team in their report.

    We would like to highlight that the report confirms that:

    • High breast cancer rate is linked to exposure to pollutants such as PAH’s, arsenic, nickel and possibly chromium
    • The main medium of exposure to these is through breathing
    • The principal producer of these pollutants are heavy industries
    • Several local sources such as road and shipping traffic, our diesel generators, and flaring from CEPSA Oil Refinery are all contributory while so far unquantifiable
    • There is a need to improve our emission data collection as well as expand this by including previously unmeasured carcinogens
    • There is a need to carry out a bio-monitoring programme of subgroups within the population to investigate the higher than average levels of breast cancer on the Rock

    Finally, the epidemiological study was not intended to, and does not address, other causes of illness, notably respiratory ones.

    As advised the ESG will be issuing a second more thorough response once we have received feedback from our public health advisers.==============================================================================