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August 4, 1993

Cancer Factories: America's Tragic Quest for Uranium Self-Sufficiency

Author Affiliations

University of Utah School of Medicine Salt Lake City


by Howard Ball (Contributions in Medical Studies, No. 37), 188 pp, $49.95, ISBN 0-313-27566-1, St Louis, Mo, Warren H Green Inc, 1993.

JAMA. 1993;270(5):649. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03510050115046

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This government-bashing book deplores the lack of safety in the mining of uranium ore and selected other events. The author uses a broad brush to condemn the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and the US Public Health Service (USPHS) for abuse of discretionary authority in pursuing a risky national security policy involving a "pact with the devil." This "pact" was allegedly a conspiracy of silence from 1945 to 1978, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of uranium miners from lung cancer. The author cites alleged injuries in several other cases, such as mock germ warfare tests over cities, the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, and a number of radiation experiments, which he attributes to similar abuses.

The book includes no interviews with persons directly involved in the pact. Knowledge of their motives and attitudes would be important. The four main points on which the book's thesis rests are (1) most radiation scientists