Are cancer rates really higher in the area called "Cancer Alley?"There is an 85-mile industrial corridor that stretches from Baton Rouge to New Orleans and is home to a quarter of  U.S....

Are cancer rates really higher in the area called "Cancer Alley?"

There is an 85-mile industrial corridor that stretches from Baton Rouge to New Orleans and is home to a quarter of  U.S. petrochemical production. To some, it is know as "Cancer Alley" and some residents are convinced that it carries with it an increased risk of cancer.

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Popular opinion is that the area in Louisiana called Cancer Alley carries a higher-than-normal rate of cancer because of the above-average petrochemical production in that area. This idea was promoted by media and environmental advocacy groups in the 1980s during a time when public sentiment was sharply negative towards pollution and chemical production. However, initial reports and the continuing media interest were based entirely on anecdotal evidence and word-of-mouth; there were no actual studies of cancer incidence in the area until 2003, when a study commissioned by Shell Oil found that that Cancer Alley actually had a lower incidence of cancer than other areas in Louisiana. This study, while peer-reviewed, was derided in the media for being biased according to the interests of Shell Oil. Later, a 2005 study by Frederic T. Billings III, M.D., found that Louisiana cancer rates were actually higher than the national average, but his findings pinpointed the cause as tobacco smoking and use, not petrochemical production. As of today, the general public opinion is that the area is dangerous, while the scientific evidence does not support that theory.

thomasmind | Student


You could speculate that there is, however how would you do a study to difinitively state that there IS more cancer in Cancer Alley?

Well some undeciding factors how many people smoke? Second hand smoke? How many people work outside? How many people work in the area and are affected by it? How many people only live there? How were people effected during Katrina?

The biggest question would be how many people are going to give you their family history from other patrs of the country that can difinitively state that, yes or no, the chemicles from the oil refineries, the chemicles from other plants are or are not the cause of incresed cancer in this area, or any other for that matter.

It is easier to find something like a tendancy to grow moles than find a difinitive cause for cancer because of the environment. A study could be dont to state that YES these chemicles that cause cancer are in this water. But as far as actually and difinitively stating that this is the cdause of more cancer, this research alone would not be possible.

Some studies have tried and still there is not any, Shell does a study says that the very cancer rate is lower, and someone else does one tat says it is higher.

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