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150+ cancer cases reported by North Carolina State University alumni: Report

A Fort Myers doctor supervised over a month of radiation therapy to treat breast cancer on a woman’s right side. (Dreamstime/TNS)
April 01, 2024

North Carolina State University in Raleigh is investigating the exposure of students and alumni to high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a substance that can lead to cancer, at one of its buildings. Over 150 cancer cases have been reported by individuals who attended classes at one of the university’s buildings.

WRAL News reported that 152 cancer cases have been documented by people associated with North Carolina State University’s Poe Hall. The campus building was officially shut down last November, just one month after PCB levels 38 times higher than the standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency were discovered inside.

Christie Lewis, a North Carolina State alumna, told Fox News that she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer while attending the college in 2011 or 2012. Lewis told Fox News that she was also diagnosed with angiosarcoma just months after being diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

While Lewis did not initially link her cancer diagnosis with potential exposure to PCBs at the college, she started to question the correlation after WRAL reported that the number of North Carolina State alumni diagnosed with cancer was three times higher than the average number of cancer cases in Wake County, North Carolina.

“I could have never made that connection by myself because I didn’t know anybody else. I was the only one in my little cohort of classmates who had cancer when I was in college,” Lewis said. “And I just thought that something was just wrong with my body. That something was wrong with me. I have four siblings, and everybody’s so healthy except for me.”

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Lewis explained that after seeing reports about the potential connection between exposure to Poe Hall and high levels of cancer cases, she started to think, “Maybe my body isn’t the problem. Maybe I was actually exposed to something that caused this.”

Fox News reported that Poe Hall was built in 1971, when PCBs were still commonly used in building materials.

According to WRAL News, while 152 cancer cases have been reported by individuals associated with Poe Hall, the outlet noted that none of the cases have been officially linked to Poe Hall and that no official agency has described the reports as a “cluster,” based on the National Cancer Institute’s definition.

Fox News reported that health officials collected samples of Poe Hall in October and that the first phase of North Carolina State University’s “Indoor Environmental Investigation Report” has been published online.

In a statement to Fox News, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said, “NC State has taken action to protect the public’s health including notifying staff about concerns, closing Poe Hall and consulting with an outside environmental expert to initiate remediation of the building.”