Depleted uranium causes cancer

Depleted uranium causes cancer


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Iraq advocated a ban on uranium weapons earlier this fall ahead of the UN General Assembly. Evidence of long-term and serious health effects from the use of uranium ammunition is becoming overwhelming. According to a current analysis by the International Coalition for the Prohibition of Uranium Weapons (ICBUW), depleted uranium (DU) damages DNA in two ways: it is chemically toxic as a heavy metal and radiotoxic as an alpha emitter. Over 50 qualified studies were evaluated for the report.

All radioactive substances that emit alpha radiation have already been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as “group 1 carcinogens” (first-order cancer causer), provided that they enter the human body. In the studies now analyzed, it was also demonstrated that DU can damage DNA and cell processes in different ways, e.g. B. by oxidative stress, breaking of DNA strands and by direct chemical binding to the DNA. In other work, the scientists documented that DU can cause DNA mutations and changes in the chromosome structure, change cells to cancer cells and destabilize the genome.

Iraq is the most contaminated country by uranium weapons. The United States and Britain fired at least 400,000 kilograms of uranium ammunition in the 1991 and 2003 wars. The civilian population was not aware of the risks of the operation. Field studies on the effects of uranium ammunition in Iraq have been severely hampered due to the US refusal to provide location and quantity information on missed ammunition. The Pax peace organization has received a few US coordinates from the Dutch Department of Defense under the Freedom of Information Act. These indicate that the US Army also used DU in 2003 in residential areas.

The ICBUW has long called for uranium weapons to be banned, as has been done with anti-personnel landmines and cluster bombs. Uranium weapons make no distinction between combatants and civilians. If the conflict has long since ended, the life-threatening effects persist in the long term and endanger future generations. (pm)

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