Cancer Rates in Fridley 10 Percent Above State Average

An new online group is seeking data and answers about cancer in Fridley.

Editor's note: .

It’s been a little less than two months since Jason McCarty started a Fridley Cancer Cluster Facebook group as “a place to discuss the cancer that is prevalent in Fridley.”

The group’s 330 members are abuzz with anecdotal evidence of friends and family who have contracted cancers, health tips, worries about environmental risk-factors such as radon exposure and plans to attract the interest of consumer advocate Erin Brockovich.

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In an email response to a member of the group, a senior epidemiologist at the Minnesota Department of Health rates over the last decade and found them significantly higher than the state average.

State epidemiologist John Soler found that Fridley’s cancer rates were 10 percent higher than the state average between 2000 and 2009, according to data from the Minnesota Cancer Surveillance System.

Lung cancer rates were 30 percent higher than expected, with incidents among women elevated 48 percent above the state average, figures Soler called “statistically significant.”

Read Soler's .

Many members of the Fridley Cancer Cluster speculated that the high cancer rates might be due to water contamination, but Soler said that the data was “not alarming” and did not prove that environmental factors are to blame.

“One becomes very weary about looking at high rates and saying, ‘Oh, is there something environmental there?’” Soler said in an interview. “For the most part, a lot of it is driven by smoking habits, and that’s not to say that pollution doesn’t cause cancer, but you often can’t see the effect of pollution.”

Soler said that when a town’s residents move, it can skew results, and cancer’s long gestation period—10 to 30 years between exposure and illness—makes environmental studies prohibitively expensive.

“We’re not going to be able to tell you whether the cancers in this community are caused by polluted waters or not,” he said. “We have a person’s address at the date where they’re diagnosed, nothing else.”

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The loosely coordinated Fridley Cancer Cluster group is making rough strides to collect data, with members asking other members to contribute accounts of residents and former residents who have contracted cancer.

Looking at the group’s discussion page, it seems everybody has a cancer story. Typical comments include a victim, a cancer and a location: “My dad died in ‘73 from cancer as well,” one member wrote. “We lived on 68th and Washington.”

Soler said as life expectancy increases, so do cancer contraction rates.

“Half of us in Minnesota are going to be diagnosed with cancer at some point in our lives,” Soler said. “Most people look around and even if they don’t know it’s 50-50, it surprises people.”

Ed Song March 21, 2012 at 11:26 PM
The question we have to ask is whether the types of cancer that were linked to the contaminants in Fridley's drinking water are elevated in Fridley. These include cancers of the liver, kidneys, lymphoma and luekemia. From the data that John Soler released indicate that these types of cancer are indeed elevated in Fridley. As for lung cancer, the most common cause is smoking. However, I would be alarmed if lung cancer was elevated among nonsmokers who were living in Fridley before the FMC superfund site was cleaned up.
Donna Ledin March 22, 2012 at 01:15 AM
What about autoimmune diseases?
lori ledin engler March 22, 2012 at 03:02 AM
Thats what I was going to ask. Autoimmune diseases, seems like so many just on our street have autoimmune disease of some sort.
Jen March 22, 2012 at 04:02 AM
I was raised in Fridley, diagnosed in 1996 at 23 years old of adenoid cystic carsinoma of my perotid gland with no ideas as to why (a cancer that my doctors said was much more common for people in their 60s!!), this all makes me wonder....I grew up on the 6300 block of Washington Street.
Sherry Shadley March 22, 2012 at 08:14 PM
What kind of chemicals are in the FMC Superfund Site. I think I remember hearing something about an old armory in Fridley that had/was causing water contamination. Are these two one in the same? I have relatives who live in Fridley.
Chris Steller (Editor) March 22, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Ed and Sherry, here is the EPA Superfund web page for the FMC site: http://www.epa.gov/R5Super/npl/minnesota/MND006481543.html. It says that the contaminants flowed west to the river, polluting the water that Minneapolis draws for its system, but not since the 1980s.
Carolyn March 23, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Is it in the water or what? Maybe how the houses were build!?
Tonia March 23, 2012 at 02:52 AM
We lived in Fridley and moved in 1986. My Mother, who has no family history, was diagnosed with cancer in 2006. Ironically it was 20 years later which is within the period of 10-30 years from exposure to illness!
cynthia czichray nelson March 23, 2012 at 03:11 AM
I was raised and lived in Fridley until I was 23. At age 12, I was diagnosed with melanoma. Not a common cancer for a young, olive skinned girl.
Belle Rogers March 23, 2012 at 05:44 AM
What about Columbia Heights....?
Belle Rogers March 23, 2012 at 05:51 AM
That is very concerning...I am glad your healthy now.
Alsops March 23, 2012 at 06:48 PM
My wife lived in Fridley from the mid 90's. She developed stage 4 lung cancer in 2009 and died in 2010.
Chris Steller (Editor) March 23, 2012 at 06:53 PM
Thank you for the comments. Please visit our interactive map to log any cases you are familiar with. Click her: http://patch.com/A-rNNZ
K M Johnson March 25, 2012 at 02:19 AM
I grew up in Fridley, south of 694. I lived in Fridley for 20 years. My parents lived in their house for 47 years. Three people on our side of the block have died of cancer. My dad and I have had cancer. The lady in the house attached to our back yard has cancer. Both my mom and I have auto-immune deseases. Too much cancer here.
Ross Meisner March 26, 2012 at 01:36 PM
Being concerned about cancer rates is natural and important. It's also important to get as much information as possible. There is at least one logical next step given the state's epidemiology data from John Soler's email: what is the range of variation seen around the state? Is the 10% increase in Fridley a large departure from the normal variability expected between localities? Are there even larger deviations from normal in places that have no superfund sites nearby? It seems the next task is now to discern just how significant this 10% increase is -- his letter doesn't mention anything regarding the statistical significance of the variance. He could probably shed light on this.
Jeani March 27, 2012 at 05:57 AM
Columbia Heights uses Minneapolis water. Fridley uses wells even though the Mississippi is right there. Read the old Super Fund Reports they are just scary.
M L Livingston March 27, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Check out this site : http://scorecard.goodguide.com/env-releases/land/site.tcl epa_id=MND006481543#maps Fridley, Minnesota, adjacent to the Mississippi River. From the early 1950s to the early 1970s, FMC, formerly Northern Pump Co., disposed of hazardous wastes (including solvents, point sludges, and plating wastes) at two on-site locations, one an 11-acre unlined landfill. Records indicate that solvents and sludge were dumped directly into unlined pits and burned or buried. Three wells used by FMC for drinking and processing are contaminated with various toxic organic chemicals, including TRICHLOROETHYLENE, DICHLOROETHYLENE, and METHYLENE CHLORIDE. Fridley and Brooklyn Center draw drinking water from the contaminated aquifer. The ground water also discharges into the Mississippi River, which supplies water to Minneapolis 800 feet downstream of the FMC property.
Katherine A Sullivan March 28, 2012 at 07:33 PM
My parents lived in Fridley since 1960. I lived there until 1965 but my parents were there until they died in2001. They both had cancer. Their first home was on Pandora Drive about 1 block south of Rice Creek Terrace. The last home they lived in was across the street from Moore Lake, on old Central Ave. I'd like to join the group.
G San July 14, 2012 at 05:35 AM
G San A past victim of the MDH, MPCA and deep pocket industry: As soon as people start to stand up for there lives, the MDH & MPCA cover there butts, and the butts of there deep pocket friends. I‘ve seen it over and over again in the past 20 years, soon the harassment will set in. The first thing the people of Minnesota need to do is get rid of John Stine the new Commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and Several people at the Environmental Surveillance and Assessment Section within the Minnesota Department of Health Division of Environmental. Next we need to get new State Epidemiologist’s and new Department of Health Commissioners. There are several people in these two departments/agencies that have not done there job for years, but they continue to go up in rank. We need to replace these people with people who care about the health risks associated with pollution in our water, air, and land. If cigarettes are causing all the illnesses in this country, then why are cigarettes not illegal, but for using cigarettes to cover up all the illnesses. Besides, the same chemicals in cigarettes are in industry waste if they can prove cigarettes cause these illnesses then they can prove contaminated water, air and land can cause these same illnesses.


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