Epidemic of Birth Defects and Cancer in Iraq: America's Toxic Legacy
by Stephen Lendman
America's Gulf War, intermittent bombings in the 1990s, the 2003 war, and aftermath left a toxic legacy.
Children born with two heads reflect it. Some had only one eye. Missing sockets look like the inside of an oyster. They're milky and shapeless.
Some children had tails like a skinned lamb. One or more had a monkey's face. Girls had their legs grown together. They were half fish, half human.
Miscarriages are frequent. Hundreds of newborns have cleft pallets, elongated heads, overgrown or short limbs, and other malformed body parts. Some are too gruesome to view.
Deformed Iraqi newborns are commonplace. So are virtually every known illness and disease. They're inordinately frequent. They range from severe headaches, muscle pain and debilitating fatigue, to serious infections, cardiovascular disease, brain tumors and numerous type cancers.
They include leukemia, Hodgkin's disease and multiple myeloma. Others affect the bile ducts, bones, brain, breasts, colon, prostate, esophagus, gall bladder, liver, lungs, pancreas, pharynx, ovaries, salivary glands, small intestine, stomach, thyroid, urinary tract, and pelvis.
Cancer's been around a long time. In October 2010, Nature.com  headlined "Cancer: an old disease, a new disease or something in between?"
It said a "striking rarity of malignancies in ancient physical remains might indicate that cancer was rare in antiquityâ€¦."
University of Illinois School of Public Health/Cancer Prevention Coalition Chairman/Professor Emeritus Samuel S. Epstein titled his 1978 award-winning book "The Politics of Cancer ."
Twenty years later, he updated it. It's called "The Politics of Cancer Revisited ."
He's an internationally recognized cancer expert. He calls it a growth industry. Over recent decades, the incidence of numerous types skyrocketed.
He referred to doing so in modern societies. Iraq and other US war theaters are different. Iraq perhaps is in a class of its own. Vast parts of the country are irradiated.
On May 21, Science Daily  headlined "Cancer and Birth Defects in Iraq: The Nuclear Legacy," saying:
Ten years after the 2003 war, Mosul-based scientists "detected high levels of uranium contamination in soil samples at three sites in the province of Nineveh which, coupled with dramatically increasing rates of childhood cancers and birth defects at local hospitals."
Iraq's a toxic wasteland. Scores of pollutants include dangerous chemicals and metals, oil, gasoline, pesticides, bacteria, other poisons, and irradiation. Widespread depleted uranium use caused it.
US bombs, missiles, shells and bullets use solid DU projectiles or warheads. They're de facto nuclear bombs. Their widespread use is more harmful than Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Inhaled or ingested DU particles or dust is highly toxic. They're designated illegal weapons for good reason. America prioritizes their use. Iraqis suffer horrendously.
Radioactive contamination is virtually everywhere. DU's half-life is 4.5 billion years. Contamination is permanent. According to Helen Caldicott:
America's two Iraq wars "have been nuclear wars because they have scattered nuclear material across the land, and people, particularly children, are condemned to die of malignancy and congenital disease essentially for eternity."
From 1991 - 2008, the incidence of birth defects and childhood cancer spiked sevenfold. Over one-third of US Gulf War vets are dead, seriously ill, or permanently disabled.
Science Daily said widespread "carcinogenic material across Iraq suggests the public health legacy of the two Gulf Wars is only going to get worse." It does so annually.
In October 2012, London's Guardian  headlined "The victims of Fallujah's health crisis are stifled by western silence."
Four new studies link "one of the most severe public health crises in history" to America's two November 2004 assaults on the city. Cancer rates and birth defects spiked dramatically.
Cancer expert Dr. Chris Busby studied conditions. He called Fallujah's crisis "the highest rate of genetic damage in any population ever studied."
In some respects, Basra replicates it. Its neural tube defects (aka "open back") incidence is unprecedented. Numbers keep rising.
Hydrocenphalus (water on the brain) cases among newborns are sixfold higher than America. US munitions bear full responsibility.
In September 2012, the Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology (BECT)  headlined "Metal Contamination and the Epidemic of Congenital Birth Defects in Iraqi Cities."
Evidence it reported was damning. From October 1994 - October 1995, congenital defects per 1,000 live births in Basra's Maternity Hospital was 1.37.
In 2003, it was 23. It represented an "astonishing 17-fold (increase) in the same hospital." From 2003 - 2011, annual evaluations were conducted. Congenital birth defect occurrences and types were reported.
Metal levels in hair, toenails and teeth were provided. Children with birth defects had nearly three times more lead in the enamel portion of deciduous teeth than others living in unimpacted areas.
Parents were abnormally affected. Pregnant mothers and growing fetuses are especially vulnerable. Exposure to toxic air, water, and soil pollutants assures trouble.
Following US bombings, contamination increased dramatically. Cancer, other diseases and birth defects followed. They're at epidemic levels. They keep rising.
Populations in war zones suffer horrifically. Radiation-affected theaters compound it. BECT said nationwide Iraq ill health reports suggest greater crisis ahead.
"News of increases in childhood cancers, of perinatal and infant morbidity and mortality, and of unusual increases in congenital birth defects, have continued to emerge from across Iraq."
Data from central Iraq's Al-Ramadi corroborated Fallujah findings. Basra's seriously affected.
"Present knowledge on the effects of prenatal exposure to metals, combined with our results, suggests that the bombardment of Al Basrah and Fallujah may have exacerbated public exposure to metals, possibly culminating in the current epidemic of birth defects."
Internal pre-Gulf War data showed cancer incidence at 40 per 100,000. By 1995, it was 800. By 2005, it doubled to 1,600. Annually, numbers increase.
They understate the problem's severity. Cancer and birth defect rates are likely much higher. Reporting falls short of what's needed.
Iraq's a cauldron of disease, malformed newborns, pain, suffering, misery, deaths and despair.
Daily violence, extreme poverty and unemployment, malnutrition, repression, dysfunctional infrastructure, permanent occupation, and other imperial priorities compound other problems.
Media scoundrels don't explain. US ones hail an Iraq success story. In August 2008, The New York Times  called "Iraq a remarkably safer place than it was when" Petraeus arrived.
Violence "plummeted" significantly. Streets "are flourishing with life. The worst, for now, has been averted." America's toxic legacy was ignored.
Violence then was more than acknowledged. Today it's out-of-control. Resource theft, ecocide, human misery, and health crisis conditions go unreported.
News most fit to print is suppressed. Official fabrications substitute. It's standard scoundrel media practice.
Most Americans don't know what's been done in their name. It's true in all US war theaters. They don't ask. They're not told. It happens every time.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.