Twenty Marines might be the key to finding out what causes breast cancer. These men were all stationed at Camp Lejeune, where the Marines train in North Carolina, in the 1960s through the 1980s. There is an almost unbelievable connection between these 20 men: they all have breast cancer.
While there is no truth to the myth that men cannot get breast cancer, it is still relatively rare. Breast cancer statistics say that less then 2200 men in the U.S. are diagnosed each year (compare that to 200,000 women each year). To have 20 of these patients in such a small geographic area is unusual to say the least. These men have endured major surgeries as well as chemo and radiation. Could these men be the key to finding an answer to the question,”what causes breast cancer in humans?”
A recent CNN.com article explains:
And they blame their time at Camp Lejeune, where government records show drinking water was contaminated with high levels of toxic chemicals for three decades, for their illnesses.
“We come from all walks of life,” said Mike Partain, the son and grandson of Marines, who was born on the base 40 years ago. “And some of us have college degrees, some of us have blue-collar jobs. We are all over the country. And what is our commonality? Our commonality is that we all at some point in our lives drank the water at Camp Lejeune. Go figure.”
Testing that started in 1980 confirmed that the water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated. Some of the worst contamination came from several solvents including trichloroethylene, benzene and perchloroethylene, all on IARC’s list of human carinogens. The wells that were testing positive were promptly shut down according to the Marine Corps.
While recent breast cancer studies have yet to find a conclusive connection, these men will be the first to tell you that they are not so sure. They are well aware of the unusual circumstance that they find themselves in.
From the CNN article:
“That’s literally unheard of to have 20 men come from the same place, walking on the same dirt, drinking the same water,” said Jim Fontella, who was based at the camp in 1966 and 1967. “I mean, there has to be a link there somehow. And they’re saying that it couldn’t happen.”
What do you think? Is there a connection or is it coincidence? We’d love to hear your thoughts.