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Cancer study on Wind River Reservation still waiting for more data

The Rocky Mountain Tribal Epidemiology Center has released an update from an ongoing health study on Wind River Reservation and nearby communities, but cautions that the results are not final.

The environmental health study was initiated because people complained of elevated cancer rates in their communities. Director of the Center, Folo Akintan, says she was hoping to have the study completed by now but since it’s not she wanted to share the results of the community surveys collected over the past two years.

Akintan has data from the state of Wyoming and is waiting on Indian Health Services to deliver additional data which she needs to do a comprehensive analysis. 

“This survey gives us a good idea of the community’s side of the story,” says Akintan. “And then we’re going to look into the other data sets to sort of figure out how to explain what’s going on in the community. Why are they so fearful and stressed out about this issue? Is it really true or not? So all the other data sets validate what the community members are saying.”

Part of the study’s goal is to see whether uranium contamination on the Reservation affects health in the community. According to the surveys, over 50% of respondents reported “some degree of stress over the site.”

Irina Zhorov is a reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She earned her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MFA from the University of Wyoming. In between, she worked as a photographer and writer for Philadelphia-area and national publications. Her professional interests revolve around environmental and energy reporting and she's reported on mining issues from Wyoming, Mexico, and Bolivia. She's been supported by the Dick and Lynn Cheney Grant for International Study, the Eleanor K. Kambouris Grant, and the Social Justice Research Center Research Grant for her work on Bolivian mining and Uzbek alpinism. Her work has appeared on Voice of America, National Native News, and in Indian Country Today, among other publications.

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