LLRC Journal Radioactive Times. Vol.4 No 1

Bev Botting promises data on child cancer

Report from Radioactive Times Volume 4, Number 1, June 2000 (content not updated)

Since 1996 Green Audit has been trying to get hold of the ages of the parents of children with cancer.

This "Mothers Project" was reported in Radioactive Times Vol. 3 no. 1 [Children of the '60s Generation]

The idea of the study was to compare the birth years of the parents of all children with cancer with control children without cancer and see if the cancer children's parents were more likely to be those born in the peak weapons fallout years 1959 - 63.

It is astonishing, said Chris Busby, that no-one has yet thought of carrying out such an obvious procedure.

The first port of call was Gerald Drape, of the Oxford Childhood Cancer research Group. Draper said that the data could not be obtained. However, soon after, following this conversation with Green Audit Draper himself applied for and obtained the data.

After this Bev Botting, of the Office for National Statistics (and author of The Health of Our Children, HMSO 1995) agreed to supply the data to Green Audit for 932 plus VAT.

No data was forthcoming. First it was because the computer system was being changed.
Then the data clerk in Southport who was extracting the files committed suicide.
Next it was handed to a new ONS researcher, Nirupa Dattani. At first she was enthusiastic, but later for no apparent reason and without telling anyone she decided not to continue with the work.

Meanwhile some cancer charity data had come from Alasdair Philips. This data supported the hypothesis.

Green Audit also tried to see if Professor Alice Stewart's Oxford Survey of Childhood Cancer could be of any use. However, Dr Tom Sorahan of Birmingham University, who now controls access to this data wrote to say that the cut off year of 1981 meant that there would be too few cases for an analysis.

Finally Green Audit wrote to Bev Botting in June with copies of all the correspondence. They demanded a statement of intent within two weeks. The letter was sent recorded delivery and copied to to COMARE. It was also put on the LLRC website.
This seems to have had the desired effect. An email was received within the week apologising for the delay and promising to send the data as soon as possible.
Green Audit are holding their breath.


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