The Air Force’s study into possible cancer risks associated with work on intercontinental ballistic missiles will be a comprehensive review—and will not favor the service over evidence, medical officials leading the effort insisted.
“We need our solutions to be driven by science and data,” Col. Tory Woodard, the commander of the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine (USAFSAM), told Air & Space Forces Magazine in a recent interview alongside a cadre of other experts.
Long-held concerns of former missileers and other personnel that supported the Air Force’s ICBM mission came to the fore earlier this year after a presentation detailing cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a blood cancer, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. appeared online. Gen. Thomas A. Bussiere, head of Air Force Global Strike Command, which is in charge of the nation’s ICBM fleet, soon ordered a review of the issue, which led to the Missile Community Cancer Study designed by USAFSAM. The study has two parts: environmental sampling and an epidemiological study, which will take 12-14 months to complete, to assess cancer rates.
“This epidemiologic study that we’re focused on is very complex,” Woodard said. “It has a lot of layers, a lot of different time periods, risk assessment, and things that factor into this.”
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