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Bomb tests a real pain in the thyoid

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Remember the classic, late-night ad that ran on cable TV, featuring an elderly woman sprawled on the floor, saying: "Help, I've fallen and I can't get up"? Well, tragically, tens of thousands of Americans can't get up, because of something that fell on them from the sky: radioactive iodine. During the '50s and '60s, atomic-bomb tests were made in Nevada, even though government scientists knew the radioactive fallout would spread across the country. Not to worry, they said, a little iodine won't hurt you.;;A little? The National Cancer Institute now tells us that this fallout was 10 times greater than that from the Chernobyl nuclear plant explosion in Russia. So much that every county in America got some fallout, that 98 counties became fall-out "hot spots," that a quarter million of our people suffered dangerous levels of exposure and that up to 75,000 cases of thyroid cancer have resulted. Iodine concentrates in the thyroid, and the incidence of thyroid cancer among people who were children at the time has risen four-fold above normal. One of the hot spots is Meagher County, Montana, where the Mayns family is mad as hell. Deryl Mayns, the 61-year-old matriarch of the family, told USA Today that she has an enlarged thyroid, her two elderly sisters had to have thyroid surgery and her son was desperately ill for seven years because his thyroid simply quit working. Others in the county are sick, too.;;Especially appalling is that officials have known about this for 40 years, but failed to tell the people. Thyroid cancers grow very slowly and are curable, but your chances of survival are much greater if you're treated when the cancer first appears. As one watchdog group put it: "It's criminal that they did not alert the public." To get more information on this exposure, contact the Physicians for Social Responsibility (202)898-0150.

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