The ATSDR study confirmed that individuals who worked and resided at Camp Lejeune from 1975 to 1985 had at least a 20% higher risk for certain cancers than those stationed at a military base not known to have contaminated water.
In a long-awaited report published today, a government study confirmed that individuals who worked and resided at Camp Lejeune from 1975 to 1985 had at least a 20% higher risk for certain cancers than those stationed somewhere else. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), based in Atlanta, Georgia, is a federal public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ATSDR’s mandate is to protect communities from harmful health effects related to exposure to natural and man-made hazardous substances.
This study, which has been called one of the largest studies in the United States to assess cancer risk by comparing approximately 211,000 people who lived and worked in a contaminated environment (USMC Base Camp Lejeune) to approximately 224,000 people who lived and worked in an environment that was not contaminated (USMC Base Camp Pendleton).
While there were a similar number of cancers found in both groups, the overall numbers and risks were higher in the Camp Lejeune group for certain cancers. Those individuals at Camp Lejeune were at least 20% more likely to develop male breast cancer; oral cancers; thyroid cancer; acute myeloid leukemia; myelodysplastic and myeloproliferative syndromes; follicular and diffuse large B-cell lymphomas; and non-papillary transitional cell bladder carcinoma.
Professor Richard Clapp, a Boston University emeritus public health professor who has worked on Camp Lejeune research in the past, noted that while the earlier studies pointed out health risks, this new report “more fully establishes the scope” of the link between contaminated water and the cancers and other diseases it causes.
Remarkably, thyroid cancer was not identified in any earlier studies. Given these new findings, Professor Clapp and many others believe that thyroid cancer will be added to the list of diseases for which individuals who lived and/or worked at Camp Lejeune (and their families) may be able to file a claim for compensation.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act signed in August 2022 gives individuals two years to file claims seeking compensation – that time period expires in August of this year.