No Cancer Cluster at SeaTac

It's little surprise that 18- to 34-year-olds are at the heart of a nationwide increase in illegal drug use, and the manufacturing industry traditionally draws heavily from this pool of job seekers.

Concerns about a cancer cluster in the SeaTac, Wash., area have proved to be unfounded.

Residents were worried that cancer rates were higher in the area surrounding SeaTac Airport than in other parts of the county. They were particularly concerned about what they perceived as increased risk of leukemia and breast cancer.

A six-month study conducted by the Washington State Department of Health analyzed the incidence of more than 25 types of cancer and compared the rates to other parts of the county and the state. Although still ongoing, the investigation did not find consistently elevated cancer rates in SeaTac. Rates for throat, mouth and lung cancer were elevated, say investigators, which they attribute to higher smoking rates in the area.

"I'm relieved to see that the overall occurrence of cancers around SeaTac is the same as King County and the state as a whole," said Sen. Julia Patterson, D-SeaTac, who requested the study. "As a lifelong resident of the area, I find the results very comforting."

The department of health plans to continue the investigation, and researchers will begin analyzing cancer data from previous years next month.

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