But to others, they paint a picture that tells more than words can say.
Rudy Bess is one of those people. After working for 20 years at Boeing Corporation as an inventory tracker, numbers, graphs and pie charts can paint a very specific picture.
And there’s one for Massac County that he doesn’t like.
Bess, along with his wife Beverly, is the founder of the Hope Light Foundation, which is dedicated to saving lives by promoting early detection, diagnosis and treatment of all cancers.
One way of pursuing that purpose is through cancer awareness information. A main source of that information is statistics. Since 2005, Bess has been tracking cancer statistics for Illinois using information obtained from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Illinois Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). And for the first time, he’s seeing “Massac County rear its ugly head” in a particular area.
When it comes to lung cancer statistics: Massac is number 2 in the state for lung cancer death rates and new cases of the disease; and number 1 when it comes to deaths due to tobacco use in Illinois counties.
Bess thinks not.
Nor does the American Cancer Society (ACS): “It is estimated that active smoking is responsible for close to 90 percent of lung cancer cases, with radon causing 10 percent.”
Found everywhere, radon is a radioactive gas formed in the decaying process that turns thorium and uranium into lead. According to the ACS: “Exposure to radon is estimated to be the second leading cause of lung cancer, accounting for an estimated 15,000 to 22,000 lung cancer deaths each year.”
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