Cancer in Minnesota 1988-2014
The state health department will release a cancer study that will help identify the cancer rates of a population around Water Gremlin plant. I have been digging into the information that the MN Health Department collects about cancer in Minnesota. Our state is very health conscious. In 1988 our legislature passed a bill that created a cancer database and required all health providers to submit data about the diagnosis of cancer and deaths from cancer. In 2017 the health department published a report called Cancer in Minnesota 1988-2014. The report compares cancer rates by region, cancer type, demographics like age, and ethnicity. All of the cancer rates are calculated based on the 2010 census. Cancer rates are the number of cancer diagnosis per 1,000 people in a geographic area.
2017 Biennial Cancer Report
The complete 2017 report can be downloaded at: https://www.health.state.mn.us/data/mcrs/docs/2017biennial.pdf#
You can see from this graph that age makes a big difference. If you prefer to look at the numbers instead of the graph here is the table data.
So what does this mean for the Water Gremlin contamination zone? It can give us a baseline for what is generally normal in Minnesota. To be able to make any comparisons we need to see this report for the contamination zone. I reached out to the MH Health Department with that question. I received a response that they are already working on a report that narrows the analysis to 5 census tracks that surround the Water Gremlin plant.
Apples to Apples
In order to see if we are comparing apples to apples the study must review any differences between the make up of the state population and the make up of our community population. If we have a larger number of young people than the state, the numbers will not compare. Our numbers may look lower than the state. If we have a larger number of old people than the state our numbers will look high because there is a much higher instance of cancer in older people.
We will need to look at the make up of the state demographics and look at cancer rates within an age group rather than an entire population. This may take some work. I am hopeful that Judy Punyko, PhD, Supervisor of the Minnesota Cancer Reporting System Data Analysis Unit will normalize the data so that we can compare apples to apples.
Even with a more targeted analysis the report will be meaningful but not completely accurate. Take a look at the map of the census tracks surrounding Water Gremlin.
Here are the population counts for each track.
There are approximately 3,000 mailing addresses within the contamination zone. Using two people per address the relevant population will be closer to 6,000. Will the targeted report show normal cancer rates or higher rates? Will it be accurate considering it will includes an area twice the size of the contamination zone?
When the report is released I will review it and share my thoughts.