Village Ravaged by Cancer in Turkey’s Cappadocia

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Village Ravaged by Cancer in Turkey’s Cappadocia

In Turkey’s Cappadocia, a village ravaged by cancer linked to mineral found in earth

The Associated Press
By BURHAN OZBILICI Associated Press
TUZKOY, Turkey November 4, 2010 (AP)

The caves, rock houses and fantastical stone formations in Turkey’s Cappadocia draw tourists from around the world. Nestled among the natural wonders, however, lies a village where the earth is believed to deliver death rather than rewards.

Nearly half the deaths in this impoverished village and two others nearby are from a rare cancer known as mesothelioma — which can be caused by a mineral that’s found in abundance in the area. Local authorities are so alarmed that a relocation of all residents is under way.

“The plan is to demolish the old village, bury it in 1 1/2 meters (yards) of earth and plant over it,” Mayor Umit Balak said.


The Turkish government, however, hasn’t made a final decision on whether to bury Tuzkoy under dirt, pave over it with asphalt, or just try to keep people away.

Dubbed “cancer village” in the media, Tuzkoy was declared a hazardous zone in 2004 and about 250 families have moved to new housing one mile (1.6 kilometers) away. The rest of the population of 2,350 is expected to move when additional homes are ready. The move is subsidized by the state.

Mesothelioma — cancer of the lining of the chest or abdomen — has also been the scourge of the nearby villages of Sarihidir and Karain.

“The number of cases of mesothelioma in Tuzkoy has been about 600 to 800 times higher than world standards,” said Murat Tuncer, who heads the Health Ministry department to fight cancer.

About 48 percent of all deaths in the three villages are from mesothelioma; the area accounts for about a quarter of the 40 to 60 new cases of mesothelioma in Turkey every year, Tuncer said. Official figures on the total number of mesothelioma deaths were unavailable, but several hundred villagers are believed to have died from the cancer since the 1980s, when authorities began to notice the problem.

Tuzkoy’s inhabitants are believed to have inhaled fibers of the mineral erionite in stones and paints they used to build homes as well as in roads and fields. Moving them just a short walk away should eliminate the risk, said Tuncer.

[Article continues at original source]

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