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Study Shows Higher Rates of Some Cancers in ICBM Personnel

March 14, 2024

Chris Gordon

Air & Space Forces Magazine

Bioenvironmental engineers from the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, or USAFSAM, and the 341st Operational Medical Readiness Squadron at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., assess environmental factors in a launch control center, June 22, 2023. U.S. Air Force photo by John Turner

By Chris Gordon, March 13, 2024 / Air & Space Forces Magazine

The Air Force found increased rates of breast and prostate cancers in service members who worked on nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles compared to the general population, according to a preliminary study of data publicly released on March 13.

“What we don’t know is whether these rates specifically for breast and prostate are due to increased screening or access to care or whether these are due to unique military exposures,” Col. Tory Woodard, a doctor and the head of U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine (USAFSAM), said in remarks at a Feb. 23 town hall, according to Air Force Global Strike Command, which maintains the nation’s 400-plus land-based strategic missiles.

The Air Force is in the midst of a wide-ranging Missile Community Cancer Study, sparked by renewed concerns that surfaced in early 2023 of possible increased cases of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, a blood cancer, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. The service previously dismissed those concerns in 2001 and 2005 reviews.

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