8 Jul 2005

Study shows New Caledonia has world's highest thyroid cancer rate

1:25 pm on 8 July 2005

A medical study says the incidence of thyroid cancer in New Caledonia is the highest in the world.

The study published in the Medical Bulletin of New Caledonia and French Polynesia says the rate is 17 times higher than the global average for women, and eight times higher for men.

The study has failed to establish a reason why New Caledonia's rates are so high, while detailing that Kanaks are three times more likely to get thyroid cancer than people of European descent.

A link has been established between such cancers and exposure to radiation but looking at figures from Belarus show that women living in relative proximity to the Chernobyl nuclear accident site have lower cancer rates.

The AFP news agency says scientists have suggested New Caledonia could be at the crossing point of nuclear fallout from weapons tests in the Marshall Islands, Australia and French Polynesia.