Printer Friendly

Tungsten alloy and cancer in rats: link to childhood leukemia?

We read with interest the article by Kalinich et al. (2005) on the generation of rhabdomyosarcomas from "embedded weapons-grade tungsten alloy." Although the study design and the reported findings are of great interest, we are concerned about certain statements made in both the "Introduction" and the "Discussion" of the article. In these sections the authors make reference to the allegation that "several cancer clusters in the United States are associated with elevated levels of tungsten in the environment" (Kalinich et al. 2005) Although they accurately point out that "no definitive link ... has been established," they suggest that the cancer clusters are part of "a growing list of health concerns related to tungsten exposure." However, the conditions at Fallon, Nevada, and the investigations into a purported link between naturally occurring tungsten and childhood leukemia are very different from the experimental conditions that exist in the implantation study by Kalinich et al. (2005).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a thorough investigation into the Fallon cancer duster; in fact, it was the largest cancer cluster investigation ever undertaken in the United States. The scientists from the CDC and state health departments concluded that exposure to tungsten was not associated with the incidence of childhood leukemia in Fallon (CDC 2003). The genesis of the leukemia cases is still an area of interest and speculation as shown by a recent letter in EHP (Daughton 2005). Because Kalinich et al. (2005) inferred that tungsten somehow played a role in the Fallon leukemias while presenting data suggesting that implanted tungsten alloy caused metastatic tumor formation, readers may confuse the issues and assume that somehow the two effects (rhabdomyosarcoma and childhood leukemia) are related.

We are not questioning the quality of the work presented by Kalinich et al. (2005) or their finding that implanted pellets of a specific combination of tungsten/ nickel/cobalt alloy caused an apparent increase in rhabdomyosarcoma with subsequent metastasis to the lung. Rather, we recommend that the authors remain focused on this finding. Suggesting that these results can be linked to, or somehow shed light on, childhood leukemia and exposure to environmental tungsten is both inappropriate and misleading.

The author provides consulting services for Kennametal, Inc., a company with a facility in Fallon, Nevada.


CDC. 2003. Cross-Sectional Exposure Assessment of Environmental Contaminants in Churchill County, Nevada. Final Report. Atlanta, GA:Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available: Fallon/study.htm [accessed 2 November 2005].

Daughton CG. 2005. Overlooked in Fallon? [Letter]. Environ Health Perspect 113:A224-A225.

Kalinich JF, Edmond CA, Dalton TK, Mog SR, Coleman GD, Kordell JE, et al. 2005. Embedded weapons-grade tungsten alloy shrapnel rapidly induces metastatic high-grade rhabdomyosarcomas in F344 rats. Environ Health Perspect 113:729-734.

John D. Schell

Blasland, Bouck & Lee, Inc.

Houston, Texas

COPYRIGHT 2005 National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Perspectives / Correspondence
Author:Schell, John D.
Publication:Environmental Health Perspectives
Date:Dec 1, 2005
Previous Article:Pesticides and neurologic symptoms: Kamel et al. respond.
Next Article:Tungsten alloy and cancer in rats: Kalinich responds.

Related Articles
Paternal Occupational Exposures and Childhood Cancer.
Childhood leukemia: electric and magnetic fields as possible risk factors. (Workshop Summary).
Tungsten-alloy shrapnel might cause cancer.
Childhood leukemia, military aviation facilities, and population mixing.
No magic bullet: tungsten alloy munitions pose unforeseen threat.
Embedded weapons-grade tungsten alloy shrapnel rapidly induces metastatic high-grade rhabdomyosarcomas in F344 rats.
Tungsten alloy and cancer in rats: Kalinich responds.
Risk factors for acute leukemia in children: a review.
Investigating childhood leukemia in Churchill County, Nevada.
Genetic studies of a cluster of acute lymphoblastic leukemia cases in Churchill County, Nevada.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |