- BETHESDA, MD (UPI)
-- Tungsten alloys, being used in battlefield munitions to make them less
toxic may cause cancer in soldiers wounded by them, U.S. Army researchers
- Researchers at the Forces Radiobiology Research Institute
implanted pellets of the tungsten alloys in rats to simulate shrapnel wounds
from the weapons. Some rats received high-dose pellets, some low-dose and
some pellets of other material for controlled comparison.
- All of the rats implanted with tungsten developed extremely
aggressive tumors surrounding the pellets. Though the tumors in the low-dose
individuals grew more slowly, all of the tumors spread rapidly to the lungs
of the rats, requiring researchers to euthanize the animals well before
the anticipated end of the study.
- "(The findings raise) extremely serious concerns
over the potential health effects of tungsten-alloy-based munitions currently
being used as non-toxic alternatives to lead and depleted uranium,"
the researchers said.
- "If the findings ... are validated by further research,
it appears that soldiers could be at risk of surviving battlefield wounds
only to develop an aggressive form of cancer," said Dr. Jim Burkhart,
science editor for the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, which
published the research.