US Military probing blood cancers' link to nuclear silo work: Reports
Nine US military officers have been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and indications say the disease may be associated with their service.
Nine military officers, who had served at a nuclear missile site in the US Montana state, have been diagnosed with blood cancer, and indications say the disease may be associated with their service, the Associated Press reported on Monday after receiving relevant military briefing slides.
The officers, known as missileers, were assigned to the Malmstrom Air Force Base, as many as 25 years ago, which is home to a vast field of 150 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile silos.
They were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, according to the report that cited a briefing this month by US Space Force Lt. Col. Daniel Sebeck.
Sebeck said there seems to be a possible link between cancer and members of the missile combat crew who have experienced a disproportionate number of cancer occurrences, specifically lymphoma.
The “disproportionate number of missileers presenting with cancer, specifically lymphoma” was concerning, he warned.
The matter is important because as many as 455 former missileers are currently members of the Space Force, including at least four of the nine individuals identified in the slides, the report said.
"The information in this briefing has been shared with the Department of the Air Force surgeon general and our medical professionals are working to gather data and understand more," the report added.
The Malmstrom base is one of three others in the United States that are home to some 400 silos for the Minutemen III missiles and has some 3,000 personnel at any time.
This was not the first time the US military has been alerted to several cancer cases at Malmstrom. In 2001, the Air Force Institute for Operational Health carried out an investigation into the base following reports about 14 cancers of different types among missileers who had served there, including two cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The review resulted in the base being environmentally safe and added that “sometimes illnesses tend to occur by chance alone.”
The new cases discovered come as the US government has started to admit the environmental hazards or toxic exposures that troops may encounter while serving.