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Importance of updating old cohorts for new findings
  1. Harri Vainio1,
  2. Elisabete Weiderpass2,3,4,5
  1. 1Environmental and Occupational Health, Faculty of Public Health, Kuwait University, Kuwait
  2. 2Department of Research, Group of Etiological Cancer Research, Cancer Registry of Norway, Institute of Population-Based Cancer Research, Oslo, Norway
  3. 3Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  4. 4Genetic Epidemiology Group, Folkhälsan Research Center, Helsinki, Finland
  5. 5Department of Community Medicine, University of Tromsø, The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway
  1. Correspondence to Professor Elisabete Weiderpass, Department of Research, Group of Etiological Cancer Research, Cancer Registry of Norway, Institute of Population-Based Cancer Research, Postboks 5313 Majorstuen, Oslo 0304, Norway; elisabete.weiderpass{at}

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Mustard gas, or sulfur mustard, is a chemical with devastating acute toxic effects. The development, production, acquisition, stockpiling and transfer of all chemical weapons, including mustard gas, were banned by The Chemical Weapons Convention of 1997. However, mustard gas was used as a chemical warfare agent during many international political conflicts and wars of the twentieth century. A known, highly toxic, mutagenic carcinogen in animal models and an established carcinogen in humans,1 mustard gas has caused much human suffering, invalidating and even killing people. The acute toxic manifestations of exposure to mustard gas consist of epithelial detachment, necrosis in the respiratory system, skin and eyes and sometimes gastric complications. The long-term health consequences of such exposure include epithelial fibrosis and cancer and have been the subject of long-term follow-up studies, especially among military personnel and inhabitants of war-stricken areas in which chemical weapons were used.2 So, does the study by Mukaida et al3 bring anything new to the existing knowledge on the consequences of long-term exposure to mustard gas? We are convinced that that answer is yes, and here we will dwell on the reasons why.

First of all, the …

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  • Contributors HV authored and revised the text. EW coauthored and revised the text.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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