The LABI Report

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 27, 2000

Dan Juneau / L’Observateur / December 27, 2000

“Cancer Alley.” It has appeared in big, bold letters on network news programs and been the theme of endless stories in the print media. The name refers to the area of Louisiana along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

For decades, environmental groups and the mass media have alleged that the presence of the petrochemical industry in that area of Louisiana has resulted in abnormally high cancer rates among residents. This premise has been repeated so often in media ci

Unfortunately, the allegations from media groups and environmental organizations have been based primarily on anecdotal evidence, not true scientific study.

Such a study was recently released by the Louisiana Tumor Registry, which took an in-depth look at the number of cancer cases along the industrial corridor. Vivien Chen, director of the Louisiana Tumor Registry, reported that the majority of residents i

“As far as the high risk of getting cancer, the evidence is just not there,” Chen said.

Out of the four demographic groups studied-white men, white women, black men and black women-only white males in the region had a cancer incidence rate higher than the national average. Black men had a cancer rate 5 percent below, white women 7 percent

Tumor Registry data shows that lung cancer remains a problem in Louisiana, but the industrial corridor shows no more instances of lung cancer than any other area of the state. In fact, white males in this region are statistically less likely to develop

Interestingly, this isn’t the first time that Louisiana Tumor Registry data has scientifically cast aspersions on the “Cancer Alley” myth. The data is updated every year, and the media and public are given information about how incidences of cancer in t

But the “Cancer Alley” stories continue, unnecessarily scaring residents who rarely can find the true scientific data in stories carried by the media.

Cancer and environmental concerns are serious issues. They should be dealt with using scientific inquiry, not emotional and political pandering. But all too often, the facts in this debate are clouded by the preconceived notions of those who are entrus### 10-9-00

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