Follow-up of a suspected excess of brain tumours among Namibian children

Preston-Martin, S. ; Wessels, G. ; Hecht, S. ; Hesseling, P. B. (2005-10)

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To the Editor: The aim of this follow-up study was to further investigate a suggested excess of childhood brain tumours (CBT) among Herero children in Namibia from 1983 to 1988. Incidence rates of primary brain tumours among Herero children were found to be 4 times higher than rates among Namibian children in any of the 10 other tribal groups or among children of European origin. The causes of CBTs remain largely unknown. The only established causes are ionizing radiation and predisposing inherited syndromes. A particularly compelling hypothesis is that exposure during gestation to N-nitroso compounds (NOCs) may lead to the development of CBT. This hypothesis was suggested by experimental work in which 100% production of nervous system (NS) tumours in rat offspring resulted from transplacental exposure to the neurocarcinogen ethylnitrosourea (ENU) or to low levels of the precursor compounds sodium nitrite and ethyl urea added to the food and drinking water of pregnant rats

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