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New Study Links Texas Oil Refineries To Elevated Cancer Risk

People who live close to oil refineries are at increased risk of cancer, a new study from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) has found.

Proximity to an oil refinery was associated with an increased risk of multiple cancer types, according to the conclusions of the multi-year study completed by a team of physicians, environmental scientists, and students at UTMB.

The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, found statistically significant rises in several types of cancer among people living very close to the oil refineries in Texas.  

Most previous studies on a possible link between proximity to oil refineries and cancer risk have been carried out outside the U.S., the team said in the study, adding that they wanted to test the hypothesis that there is an increased cancer risk across different cancer types according to proximity to an oil refinery in Texas.

The team used, reviewed, and analyzed data from the Texas Cancer Registry and U.S. Census Data between 2001 and 2014 to compare rates of bladder, breast, colon, lung, lymphoma, and prostate cancer of people within 30 miles of active Texas oil refineries.

“The team observed that proximity to an oil refinery was associated with a significantly increased risk of cancer diagnosis across all cancer types. People living within 10 miles of an active refinery were more likely to have advanced disease or metastatic disease,” UTMB said in a statement on Monday.

“Based on U.S. Census Bureau data, there are more than 6.3 million people over 20 years old who reside within a 30 mile radius of 28 active refineries in Texas,” said Dr. Stephen Williams, Chief of Urology and a tenured professor of urology and radiology at UTMB and co-author of the study.

“Our findings are important and certainly support the need for further individual level investigation into the risks of carcinogenesis linked to proximity to an oil refinery. It definitely warrants further investigation including epidemiological field work as those results are not causal,” Williams said.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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  • greg Gerritt on December 05 2020 said:
    I would hope no one was surprised by this report/study. My friends who grew up in Est Texas always referred to it as Cancer Alley, and they grew up there 50 years ago. It is facilities like these that remind us how important environmental justice is.

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