Sunday, October 17, 2021

NYS Health Dept. on why Warren County has high cancer rate cites smoking, alcohol

By Patrick Daley, Chronicle Staff Writer

Warren County, as well as Erie and Suffolk counties and Staten Island, has the state’s highest rate of cancer, says the New York State Department of Health.

Last week it released the executive summary of its Warren County Cancer Incidence Report examining why Warren County had the highest rates of cancer in New York State from 2011 to 2015.

“It is likely that a higher proportion of current and former tobacco use contributed to the elevated rates of lung, laryngeal, esophogeal and oral cancers in Warren County, which are four cancers most strongly associated with tobacco use,” says the DOH summary. “In 2011-2015, the elevations in the rates for these cancers were more often observed in men.”

It also cites alcohol consumption, obesity and human papillomavirus infection as possible contributors to elevated local cancer rates.

Department of Health said it researchers examined in depth 12 types of cancer — oral, colorectal, laryngeal, lung, brain and other nervous system, thyroid, esophageal, melanoma of the skin and leukemia — that it said were statistically higher in Warren County compared to the rest of the state. Researchers said they used New York State excluding New York City as the appropriate comparison for Warren County because its socio-demographic makeup is more similar, the report said.

Other factors evaluated include behavioral, healthcare and occupation data; and environment data.

The study found that Warren County ranks in the “top tier” of 57 counties for its healthcare system. This may account for an elevated rate of thyroid cancer in women under age 65, it said, because of more medical diagnostic access and earlier detection for Warren County residents.

Occupational survey input was too insignificant to yield a reliable result, it said.

More good news: “Analysis of asbestosis hospitalization rates indicates that past exposure to asbestos is unlikely to have been elevated in Warren County.”

Outdoor air pollution evaluation using data from 1973-1996 indicated that Warren County air met national quality standards, and that inhalation cancer risks associated with outdoor air pollution in Warren County were similar or lower than New York State excluding New York City.

Other environmental factors — radon indoors, drinking water, industrial and inactive hazardous waste disposal sites, and traffic — were not found to have affected the elevated cancer rates, the report said.

Examination of melanoma, brain and nervous system cancers, and leukemia did not yield significant differences or had limited data.

• • •

A public meeting to discuss the report is set for Thursday, Nov. 7, at 7 p.m. at SUNY Adirondack in Queensbury.

The summary of the Warren County Cancer Incidence Report is available at health.ny.gov/diseases/cancer/docs/warren_executive_summary_2019.pdf.

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