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Last Edited: 4/28/2009

Cancer Incidence Near the Santa Susana Field Laboratory: 1978-1989
Written: 1992


This report is a follow-up to a preliminary analysis of cancer incidence near Rocketdyne's Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL) released by the California Department of Health Services (CDHS) in January 1991.  The 1991 report examined cancer incidence among Los Angeles County residents living near SSFL compared to those for Los Angeles as a whole for the time period 1978-87.  The current report adds one year of data (1988) for Los Angeles County, and data for neighboring Ventura County for 1988 and 1989. 

Very radiosensitive cancers were not more common among residents near SSFL in any of the time periods examined or geographical comparisons made.  Somewhat higher, and somewhat lower, incidence of some cancer types was seen among residents near SSFL, but there was no consistent pattern between residents of the two counties, or between men and women.  The findings are consistent with the earlier CDHS report indicating an increase in bladder cancer restricted to men only in Los Angeles County only.  There was also an increase in the proportion of lung cancer among Ventura County men.  Lack of an increase in the most strongly radiosensitive cancers suggest causes other than radiation. 

All epidemiology studies have some limitations.  For these analyses, there was no information on length of residence near SSFL, nor on people who once lived nearby but moved away.  Environmental, occupational, and lifestyle factors among the individuals were also not available.  The relatively small number of cases of cancer in the five-mile radius during the years examined also limits the ability to find risks that may exist.  These limitations should be kept in mind, but do not change the overall conclusions of the report. 

These analyses do not suggest that people living near SSFL were at increased risk of developing cancers know to be associatied with ratiation exposure during the study period.  Because lung and bladder cancers tend to be strongly associated with other risk factors (smoking and non-radiation occupational exposures), it is important to consider alternative explanations. 

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