Cancer cluster identified in Highland, NY, as wave of children diagnosed with leukemia

Sunday, November 10, 2013 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: cancer cluster, children, leukemia diagnoses

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(NaturalNews) There must be something in the water in Highland, New York, a small town just across the Hudson River from Poughkeepsie where at least six young children were recently diagnosed with the same form of leukemia, one after another. CBS New York reports that the New York State Department of Health (NYSDH) has launched an investigation into what many local parents now say is an unusual and seemingly contagious wave of cancers with no obvious explanation.

Each of the six diagnoses occurred within the past 20 months, according to reports, and all of those diagnosed have been children younger than age 10. Also disturbing is the fact that all of the children live in the same neighborhood and on the same street, suggesting what the media has now dubbed a possible "cancer cluster," or an unusually high rate of the same form of cancer in a localized area.

"The oncology doctor as soon as she looked at his labs knew that he had leukemia," said Stephanie Lucas, mother of four-year-old Cameron, to reporters. Young Cameron was diagnosed this past March with leukemia after suffering frequent fevers, which eventually developed into chronic pain in his arm. "It was just shocking. You never expect it to happen to your child."

Nine-year-old Alexandra Malheiro, who lives right down the street, was also recently diagnosed with leukemia, as were four other young children in the neighborhood. Alexandra's mother, Stacey, told reporters that, once the first child was diagnosed, more quickly followed suit until the entire neighborhood was plagued with cases. She finds the whole situation strange and, like many others, is actively seeking answers.

"When my daughter was diagnosed, all of a sudden, the next kid, the next kid," explained Malheiro to CBS New York about how the scenario developed. "I just find it very coincidental that all these children in a matter of 20 months have been diagnosed with the same thing,"

Some local residents point to agricultural pesticides as likely culprit

Though the NYSDH investigation is still underway, some local residents believe environmental pollution may be the cause. Lifelong resident and Highland Town Supervisor Paul Hansut says that the area has a rich farming history and routine pesticide sprayings may have poisoned the ground and local waterways.

"They would be spraying in the back and picking the apples and all that kind of stuff," stated Hansut to reporters. "You never really thought about it at that time. I don't know if that has anything to do with it. That's kind of why we're hoping to get some data collection and get some experts in."

Lucas agrees, having also told reporters that she believes "something is going on." In the meantime, NYSDH officials plan to interview both the parents and their children to identify potential exposures to carcinogenic materials. The local water supply has already been tested and reportedly came up clean. NYSDH has also not indicated how long it expects the investigation to take.

"I do want answers even though it's not going to change my situation whatsoever," added Malheiro. "But it may give me a little peace of mind."

You can view an interactive map of reported cancer clusters all across the U.S. here:

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