Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 11, Issue 3–4, pp 145–147 | Cite as

Geochemical interpretation of cancer maps of Finland

  • R. Piispanen


In order to reveal possible cause-and-effect relationships and correlations between geochemical variables and the incidences of various forms of cancer, geochemical maps (soil and groundwater) and cancer maps of Finland are compared using standard methods of correlation analysis. The cancer incidence maps published by the Finnish Cancer Registry and soil and groundwater geochemical maps published by the Geological Survey of Finland, both in colour, were decoded to numerical incidence or concentration values by placing a rectangular grid of 684 evenly spaced observation points over each map representing the entire area of the mainland of Finland,i.e. the points were located at intervals of about 25 kilometres on the ground. Bivariate correlation coefficients were calculated between the variables for cancer incidence and the geochemical data matrices. As a general rule, the results show a low degree of correlation between the variables (r = 0.00 – 0.40), which suggests that the types studied of cancer are not related to the geochemical variables. There are a few possible exceptions, however, such as cancer of the colon in males and females in relation to arsenic and uranium in the soil and hardness of the groundwater, where the Spearman product-moment correlation coefficients are 0.59, 0.55 and 0.51 respectively, so that the cancer case may have a geochemical factor implicated in their aetiology, albeit very vaguely. The relatively high correlation coefficients (0.61, 0.62 and 0.63 respectively) recorded for the dependence of total cancer in females on groundwater hardness and uranium and arsenic in till must be regarded as meaningless in view of the multicausative aetiology of total cancer (all forms combined).


Arsenic Uranium Geological Survey Cancer Incidence Cancer Registry 
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Copyright information

© Sciences and Technology Letters 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Piispanen
    • 1
  1. 1.University of OuluLinnanmaaFinland

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