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State Cancer study confirms high number of cases in East Harris County

RED PINS on the Map indicate households with Cancer, Autoimmune disease, or other chronic illnesses.

RED PINS on the Map indicate households with Cancer, Autoimmune disease, or other chronic illnesses.

Health department reconsiders, may conduct further studies

Friday, June 19, 2015 – Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) released an Assessment of the Occurrence of Cancer in a select study area in East Harris County, Texas. The report confirmed statistically significantly high rates of the following cancers in children: glioma, retinoblastoma, brain cancer, melanoma, and leukemia. The report also confirmed statistically significantly high rates of the following cancers in people of all ages: brain cancer, cervical cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer, leukemia, myeloma, and lymphoma.

Along with the data was an unprecedented announcement for TX DSHS. In over 400 similar database investigations, this is the first time that the State of Texas is actually going to further investigate the health of specific communities. This is not only a victory for the San Jacinto River Coalition and residents of East Harris County, who have been advocating for the study for several years, but a major victory for public health in the State of Texas.

In 2011, the San Jacinto River Coalition began begging DSHS to study the health of Highlands, TX. Though they weren’t sure what was making so many local residents develop cancer, they weren’t convinced that it was all by coincidence. In 2014 DSHS announced that in response to community concerns, they were going to do a cancer database investigation. The leader of the Coalition began assisting DSHS as a community representative, relaying crucial local information that shaped the parameters of their investigation.

Here’s what they did:

DSHS investigated cancer database information from 1995 to 2012 for populations along the San Jacinto River, in the inundation zones of the River. This area encompassed 38 census tracks. They looked at the data for the area as a whole and they looked at each census track individually. DSHS investigated database information for 17 types of childhood and adult cancers.

Here’s a summary of what they found:

Of the 17 types of cancers investigated, 14 types came back at a statistically significantly high rate in at least one census track within the study area.

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