UNITED STATES NEWS

Early results show lower cancer rates than expected among Air Force nuclear missile personnel

Mar 13, 2024, 2:00 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Air Force is reporting the first data on cancer diagnoses among troops who worked with nuclear missiles and, while the data is only about 25% complete, the service says the numbers are lower than what they expected.

The Air Force said so far it has identified 23 cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a blood cancer, in the first stage of its review of cancers among service members who operated, maintained or supported silo-based Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles.

To identify those cases the Air Force looked at all missile community personnel who used the military health care system, or TRICARE, from 2001 to 2021, a population they said is about 84,000 people and includes anyone who operated, maintained, secured or otherwise supported the Air Force nuclear mission.

Within that community about 8,000 served as missileers, young men and women who are underground in launch control capsules for 24 to 48 hours at a time — ready to fire the silo-based Minuteman missiles if ordered to by the president.

The Air Force review of cancers among service members who are assigned to its nuclear missile mission was prompted by January 2023 reports that nine missile launch officers who had served at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The 23 cases identified so far are lower than what would be expected over the 20-year time frame when compared to similar incidence rates in the U.S. general population, the Air Force said. Based on National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results data on the incidence of non-Hodgkin lymphoma for the same time frame, Air Force researchers would expect to find about 80 NHL cases in the larger 84,000-person missile community.

It also did not identify how many of those 23 cases were found among the smaller missileer population versus among the larger pool of service members who support the nuclear mission.

The Air Force has emphasized that it still doesn’t have all the data. The study does not yet include state cancer registry and Department of Veterans Affairs data, which limits what numbers are reported. The military health care system only serves active duty personnel, their dependents and qualifying retirees, meaning that service members who left the military before they had completed 20 years of service, but who were diagnosed after they left, may not be included in these numbers.

The nuclear missile community has formed an advocacy group to press for answers on the cancers, named the Torchlight Initiative, and has found hundreds of cases of NHL among its ranks.

Missileers have raised concerns for years about the underground capsules they work in. The capsules were dug in the 1960s on older environmental standards and exposed them to toxic substances. An Associated Press investigation in December found that despite official Air Force responses from 2001 to 2005 that the capsules were safe, environmental records showed exposure to asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs and other cancer-linked dangers were regularly reported in the underground capsules.

The Air Force is continuing its review.

United States News

Several hundred students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally at the intersection of Grove and Coll...

Associated Press

Pro-Palestinian protests sweep US college campuses following mass arrests at Columbia

NEW YORK (AP) — Columbia canceled in-person classes, dozens of protesters were arrested at Yale and the gates to Harvard Yard were closed to the public on Monday as some of the most prestigious U.S. universities sought to diffuse campus tensions over Israel’s war with Hamas. The various actions followed the arrest last week of […]

2 hours ago

Ban on sleeping outdoors under consideration in Supreme Court...

Associated Press

With homelessness on the rise, the Supreme Court weighs bans on sleeping outdoors

The Supreme Court is wrestling with major questions about the growing issue of homelessness as it considers a ban on sleeping outdoors.

3 hours ago

Arizona judge declares mistrial in case of rancher who shot migrant...

Associated Press

Arizona judge declares mistrial in the case of a rancher accused of fatally shooting a migrant

An Arizona judge declared a mistrial in the case of rancher accused of killing a Mexican man on his property near the U.S.-Mexico border.

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Trial opens for former Virginia hospital medical director accused of sexual abuse of ex-patients

NEW KENT, Va. (AP) — The former longtime medical director of a Virginia hospital that serves vulnerable children used physical examinations as a “ruse” to sexually abuse two teenage patients, a prosecutor said Monday, while the physician’s attorney “adamantly” denied any inappropriate conduct. The trial of Daniel N. Davidow of Richmond, who for decades served […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

US House Judiciary Committee chair seeks details from ATF on airport director shooting

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The chair of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Monday asked the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to provide documents and information about its raid at the home last month of the Little Rock airport director who died after a shootout with agents serving a search warrant. Rep. […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Minnesota state senator arrested on suspicion of burglary

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A state senator and former broadcast meteorologist was arrested on suspicion of burglary early Monday in the northwestern Minnesota city of Detroit Lakes, police said. Democratic Sen. Nicole Mitchell, 49, of Woodbury, was being held in the Becker County Jail on suspicion of first-degree burglary. Formal charges were still pending Monday afternoon, […]

5 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

Early results show lower cancer rates than expected among Air Force nuclear missile personnel