Thursday, 22 March 2007

Depleted Uranium: the silent killer and cause of soaring birth deformities and child cancer rates in Iraq?

Birth deformities and cancer rates among Iraqi children are soaring and Iraqi doctors are making renewed efforts to bring to the worlds attention this crisis.

It is being directly blamed on the widespread use of depleted uranium (DU) munitions by the US and British forces in Southern Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War, and then even greater use of DU during the 2003 invasion. The Depleted Uranium: has been called Pentagon Poison and the statistic's reveal this is an accurate term.

The rate of birth defects was 11 per 100,000 births in 1989 and rose to 116 per 100,000 in 2001, now it is soaring further.

Dr Ibrahim al-Jabouri, a medical reporter into birth deformities at Baghdad Univeristy reported to the UN last month: "In my experiments we have found some cases where the mother and father were suffering from pollution from weapons used in the south and we believe that it is affecting newborn babies in the country." According to the Depleted Uranium website.

The rise in birth defects is matched by a continuing increase in the incidence of childhood cancers.

A study by the Collage of Medicine at Basra University revealed horrific changes between 1990 and 1999. Cancer of all types rose by 242 percent in Basra, while the rate of leukaemia among children rose 100 percent.

A report into the phenomenon has noted: "Most doctors and scientists agree that even mild radiation is dangerous and increases the risk of cancer. Broken DU shells release uranium particles. The airborne particles enter the body easily. The uranium then deposits itself in bones, organs and cells. Children are especially vulnerable because their cells divide rapidly as they grow. In pregnant women, absorbed uranium can cross the placenta into the bloodstream of the foetus.

"In addition to its radioactive dangers, uranium is chemically toxic, like lead, and can damage the kidneys and lungs. Perhaps, the fatal epidemic of swollen abdomens among Iraqi children is caused by kidney failure resulting from uranium poisoning. Whatever the effect of the DU shells, it is made worse by malnutrition and poor health conditions....

"Iraq holds the United States and Britain legally and morally responsible for the grave health and environmental impact of the use of DU ..." (A version of the report is available at:

Recently the number of children under 15 falling ill with cancer has risen higher, the rate has now reached 22.4 per 100,000 more than five times the 1990 rate of 3.98 per 100,000.

The statistics point to the long-term consequences of depleted uranium contamination and are hard to ignore.

In ten years time experts predict Iraq will suffer an even greater cancer and birth defect epidemic as the 3000 tonnes of DU that was used in the densely populated city's of Iraq in 2003 begins to take its toll. The question is how will a country who's medical resources are already stretched to the limit cope with such a thing.

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