Deadly abodes

for the people of Karain, a small village in central Anatolia, Turkey, cancer is a way of life. Over the last several decades, cancer has led to the death of over half of its population.

There are several explanations for the high rate of cancer cases. Many local homes are built from volcanic stones which are believed to contain silicon dust. According to Izzettin Baris of Hacettepe University, Ankara, who spent four years studying patients in Karain, the cause of the epidemic is erionite, an asbestos-like fibrous mineral found in the soil, which is used by the villagers for whitewash, insulation, plaster and as a substitute for baby powder. The village has earned a bad name because of the disease. Farm and dairy products from Karain are generally avoided by people so they have to be sold at low prices to brokers who disguise their origin.When villagers go to a hospital with any kind of pain, they are directly sent to the cancer ward.

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