04/14/2014 12:32 EDT | Updated 06/14/2014 05:59 EDT

New Cancer Study Needed, Says Fort Chipewyan Chief

The Chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation is looking for money to do an independent cancer study in Fort Chipewyan.

He and others say a comprehensive study of cancer in the region, that takes environmental causes into consideration, is needed.

Adam says the Alberta government's latest report on cancer in Fort Chipewyan doesn't explain the rates of cancer in the community.

The study found the community doesn't have higher overall cancer rates.

However, the Alberta Health Services survey, which used data from 1992 to 2011, did find the prevalence of two kinds of cancer in Fort Chipewyan was higher than would be expected.

James Talbot, chief medical health officer, said the higher levels of cervical and bile duct cancer are most likely to be attributable to other factors than environmental contamination.

"Overall, cancer rates in the region are what would be expected for the rest of Alberta," he said when the survey was released in March. 

Dr. John O'Connor has worked as a physician in the community for years.

"Fort Chip needs answers why a small community in a pristine location is suffering from these cancers, it makes no sense whatsoever. The report stated environmental causes, like the oil sands, were likely not to blame for cancer in Chip."

Chief Adam also says more research needs to be done. Adam says a new health study could cost upwards of 3 million dollars.

Dr. O'Connor says that type of study should be the responsibility of Alberta Health.

Alberta's Chief Medical Officer James Talbot told the CBC he would entertain the idea of a health study on Fort Chipewyan.

For now, Chief Adam is looking funding for an independent and comprehensive health study looking at possible causes - including environmental affects like the oilsands.

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