Tungsten bullets cause cancer in wounds
[Health India]: BETHESDA, Md., Feb. 16: Tungsten alloys, being used in battlefield munitions to make them less toxic may cause cancer in soldiers wounded by them, U.S. Army researchers said.
Researchers at the Forces Radiobiology Research Institute implanted pellets of the tungsten alloys in rats to simulate shrapnel wounds from the weapons. Some rats received high-dose pellets, some low-dose and some pellets of other material for controlled comparison.
All of the rats implanted with tungsten developed extremely aggressive tumors surrounding the pellets. Though the tumors in the low-dose individuals grew more slowly, all of the tumors spread rapidly to the lungs of the rats, requiring researchers to euthanize the animals well before the anticipated end of the study.
“(The findings raise) extremely serious concerns over the potential health effects of tungsten-alloy-based munitions currently being used as non-toxic alternatives to lead and depleted uranium,” the researchers said.
“If the findings … are validated by further research, it appears that soldiers could be at risk of surviving battlefield wounds only to develop an aggressive form of cancer,” said Dr. Jim Burkhart, science editor for the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, which published the research.
Copyright 2005 by United Press International