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Histologic Changes as Indicators of Carcinogenicity of Tungsten Alloy in Rodents

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Technical Report

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Uniformed Services University Of The Health Sciences Bethesda United States

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It has been estimated that over 28,451 Americans have been wounded in Iraq since March 2003. Fragmentation wounds accounted for approximately forty-nine percent of wounds in the Persian Gulf War and forty-six percent of wounds in the first phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom. For most, the shrapnel will have caused its damage at the time of the injury and the soldier will suffer no further harm. However, in addition to causing skeletal muscle pathology, munitions composed of heavy metals, such as depleted uranium and the tungsten alloys, also have chemical properties that are potentially carcinogenic. The expanded use of heavy metals in munitions and the introduction of new materials, such as explosively-shaped charges, on the battlefield increase the risk of shrapnel wounds in both combatants and noncombatants. Knowledge of the long-term consequences of gunshot and shrapnel injuries is now an issue for both military and civilian health care and timely and proper care is critical for those wounded.

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