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12. The US Has Left Iraq with an Epidemic of Cancers and Birth Defects

High levels of lead, mercury, and depleted uranium are believed to be causing birth defects, miscarriages, and cancer for people living in the Iraqi cities of Basra and Fallujah. Researchers have claimed that the United States bombings of Basra and Fallujah are to blame for this rapidly increasing health crisis.

A recent study showed more than 50 percent of babies born in Fallujah have a birth defect, while one in six pregnancies ends in a miscarriage. While there is no conclusive evidence to show that US military attacks directly caused these health problems among Iraqi citizens, the immense increase of birth defects and miscarriages after the attacks has been enough to concern a number of researchers.

Military officials continue to dodge questions about the attacks, and about use of depleted uranium in particular, while maintaining silence about the health crisis. Instead, the US government has dismissed the reports as controversial and baseless.

Censored #12

The US Has Left Iraq with an Epidemic of Cancers and Birth Defects

Sarah Morrison, “Iraq Records Huge Rise in Birth Defects,” Independent, October 14, 2012,

Ross Caputi, “The Victims of Fallujah’s Health Crisis are Stifled by Western Silence,” Guardian, October 25, 2012,

Dahr Jamail, “Ten Years Later, U.S. Has Left Iraq with Mass Displacement & Epidemic of Birth Defects, Cancers,” Democracy Now!, March 20, 2013,

M. Al-Sabbak, S. Sadik Ali, O. Savabi, et al., “Metal Contamination and the Epidemic of Congenital Birth Defects in Iraqi Cities,” Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 89, no. 5 (November 2012),

Student Researchers: Ivan Konza (Florida Atlantic University); Marc David Prophete (Indian River State College)

Faculty Evaluators: James F. Tracy (Florida Atlantic University); Elliot D. Cohen (Indian River State College)


  • Paul D Pruitt October 1, 2013

    Around one in three miscarriages is the normal situation:

    You should clarify that statistic.

  • G. Santiago October 30, 2013

    Since the First Gulf War in 1991, there has been a severe increase in cancer rates within Iraq. Iraq increase from 40 registered cases of cancer (per 100, 000 Iraqis) before the Gulf War of 1991 to 800 cases of cancer (per 100, 000 Iraqis) by 1995. The levels were even worst with 1,600 cancer cases per 100, 000 people by 2005. Today the cancer rates continue to skyrocket and there are more cases now than there were in the previous years, not to mention, the number of birth deffects in Iraq are also drastically increasing.

    Iraq: War’s Legacy of Cancer
    “Two US-led wars in Iraq have left behind hundreds of tonnes of depleted uranium munitions and other toxic wastes.”
    Dahr Jamail

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