HC Deb 10 March 1958 vol 584 cc20-1
10. Dr. Stross

asked the Minister of Health, as representing the Lord President of the Council, whether he will give an estimate of the number of cases of cancer of bone which will occur in England and Wales as a result of the absorption of radioactive strontium from the explosion up to date of nuclear devices; and what research is being conducted on the problem of eliminating this substance from living bone.

Mr. Walker-Smith

The Medical Research Council, to which the Government look for advice on this issue, takes the view that no detectable increase in the incidence of ill-effects is to be expected from the absorption of radioactive strontium from the explosion up to date of nuclear devices. Research on the elimination of radio-active strontium from living bone is included in the programme, which is receiving support from the Medical Research Council.

Dr. Stross

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman remember that we have succeeded in finding a method by which lead, when it is locked in bone, can be eliminated? Therefore, it is hopeful that we shall be able ultimately to discover how to get rid of radio strontium. Does he not agree, with reference to the first part of my Question, that roughly 1,000 cases of cancer per megaton may be expected from the explosion of these devices, and that therefore we have not escaped, and cannot escape, the ill-effects to the extent of 1,000 or 2,000 cases up to date in this generation?

Mr. Walker-Smith

Regarding the last part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary, I understand that there is no direct evidence of the effects of radio strontium in man and no cases have been reported of radio strontium having been detected in human bone cancer. Regarding elimination, the difficulty, as the hon. Gentleman, with his scientific knowledge, will appreciate, is to eliminate the radio strontium from the bone without at the same time eliminating its chemical analogue, calcium.