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PSR Physician Finds Regional Nuclear War Could Kill One Billion People

October 4, 2007

London, October 3 — An international conference of physicians in London today will examine the consequences of a regional nuclear war.  Dr. Ira Helfand, a practicing physician and board member of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) will present a paper arguing that even a limited use of nuclear weapons could cost more than a billion lives globally.

“In the event of a protracted global cooling triggered by a limited, regional nuclear war, it seems reasonable to postulate a total global death toll in excess of one billion from starvation alone,” concludes Dr. Helfand.  In addition, he observes that “a global famine on the scale anticipated would provide the ideal breeding ground for epidemics involving…cholera, malaria, smallpox, and dysentery.”

Dr. Michael McCally, Executive Director of PSR, points out that “Dr. Helfand’s findings should cause those considering the development of new nuclear weapons to reconsider.  Large or small, in the long run and maybe sooner nuclear arsenals are incompatible with human survival.”

Dr. Helfand’s paper will be presented today at the Royal Society of Medicine in London, England at a conference titled, “Nuclear Weapons:  The Final Pandemic.”  The conference is sponsored by International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), the international federation of physicians’ groups awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985 for raising global awareness of the dangers of nuclear weapons.  PSR is the U.S. affiliate of IPPNW.

Dr. Helfand’s paper cites research by Professors O.B. Toon of the University of Colorado at Boulder and Alan Robock of Rutgers University who contributed to a study published in the journal Science in March 2007.  Doctors Helfand and McCally are available for interviews.  Please contact Will Callaway at (202) 587-5224.

Click here to read Dr. Helfand's paper.

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