TAEAN, Sept. 15 (Korea Bizwire) – Recent data has revealed that the number of leukemia and prostate cancer patients in Taean County has risen drastically since one of the country’s worst oil spills devastated the region in 2007.
The worrying data put forward by Choi Gyeong-hwa, the director of information management at the Taean Environmental Health Center during an international symposium on Friday revealed that the number of male cancer prostate patients and female leukemia patients in Taean County is increasing at an alarming level compared to other parts of the country.
While the data noted it wasn’t the case with all types of cancer, the number of individuals suffering from prostate cancer in particular was found to have jumped by a whopping 154 percent between 2009 and 2013 compared to the period between 1999 and 2003.
Between 1999 and 2003, the incidence of prostate cancers in the county was estimated to be 10.7 per 100,000, but the figure steadily rose to 12.1 between 2004 and 2008 before jumping to 30.7 per 100,000 during the next five years.
Similarly, the number of leukemia patients among women increased at a worrying level over the same period of time.
Between 1999 and 2003, the figure stood at 5.1 per 100,000 before slightly increasing to 5.6 per 100,000 between 2004 and 2008.
However, between 2009 and 2013, after the oil spill near the port of Daesan off the coast of Taean County, 8.6 in every 100,000 people in the region were found to suffer from leukemia, up 54 percent from between 1999 and 2003.
Other data shared during the symposium held at Manripo Youth Center, an academic event marking the 10th anniversary of the MT Hebei Spirit oil spill, also found there was a difference between the growth of leukemia and prostate cancer patient numbers among towns within Taean County.
For instance, the number of individuals suffering from leukemia and prostate cancer grew faster in neighborhoods close to the area where the oil spill took place, such as Sowon Township, as opposed to more distant localities like Taean Town.
While the number of leukemia and prostate cancer patients grew at a rate of 280 percent from 2004 to 2014 in areas of Taean County close to where the oil leak occurred, the nationwide growth rate of the two diseases remained at 0.4 percent during the same time.
“We need to find out the cause behind the growing number of prostate cancer and leukemia patients in highly exposed areas in Taean, which is relatively high compared to the rest of the country, as well as conduct checkups and examinations on the local residents on a regular basis,” Choi said.
Ashley Song (firstname.lastname@example.org)