Cancer risk in the combat zone

Exposure to depleted uranium (DU) particles is a source of growing concern internationally as it increases the risk of lung cancer, according to John Pierce Wise Sr of the University of Southern Maine. Writing in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology the researchers explain that DU has a density twice that of lead and so is used in military armor and munitions. However, DU dust produced in combat can lead to frequent and widespread exposure of military personnel and civilians during an after combat. Few studies have been undertaken, bit Wise and his colleagues have now tested the effects of DU on cultures of human lung cells. "This is the first report on the cytotoxicity and clastogenicity [chromosome damaging potential] of particulate and soluble DU in human bronchial cells," the researchers say.