Unlikely state becomes America’s surprising new cancer epicenter – as experts hone in on five factors causing ‘public health crisis’

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Unlikely state becomes America’s surprising new cancer epicenter – as experts hone in on five factors causing ‘public health crisis’

Researchers studying a sharp rise in cancers in Iowa have honed in on a number of factors that have made the state America’s unlikely epicenter of new cases.

The state has the fastest growing rate of new cancers and the second highest cancer rate in the country for the second year in a row.

This trend left many Midwesterners and officials baffled because neighboring states, with similar demographics and agricultural practices, actually saw a decline in cancer rates.

But now officials are pointing to a unique environmental cause for the uptick.

It may be, at least in part, to do with a geographic anomaly – a radioactive gas that is leeching from the Earth thanks to geological changes that took place during the last ice age.

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Radon, a naturally occurring gas that gets released from weathered bed rock, is the number one cause of lung cancers in non smokers according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Thousands of years ago, Iowa, and other parts of the Midwest, were covered by a gigantic glacier that began eroding that bedrock. Today, it’s worn down enough in specific areas that it can leach into soil and get into people’s homes.

Experts have now identified five potential factors why lung, breast, prostate and skin cancers are all rising at high rates across the Hawkeye state: obesity, radon exposure, tobacco habits, farming practices and alcohol use.

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The interplay of these five factors is likely to blame for this cancer crisis, Mary Charlton, the director of Iowa Cancer Registry and professor in the University of Iowa College of Public Health Department of Epidemiology told the Telegraph Herald.

‘The unfortunate, unsatisfying answer I have for everybody is, it’s not one thing,’ Dr Charlton said. ‘It can’t be. We’re high in so many different types of cancer, and they all have different patterns, different geography patterns, different populations.’

Two in five Iowa residents will be diagnosed with cancer, according to the 2024 Cancer in Iowa report. That’s roughly 21,000 new cases, of which, 6,100 people are projected to die


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