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NATCOMS Allays Fears of Cancer from Scratch Card

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National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers (NATCOMS) has faulted claims from some quarters that the silver seal used to coat numbers on telecoms

recharge cards could cause cancer of the skin.

President of NATCOMS, Mr. Deolu Ogunbanjo, who was reacting to recent text messages sent to most subscribers on the perceived danger of scratching recharge cards with finger nails, said it was incorrect for anyone to think and believe that the silver seal could cause cancer of the skin.  

Early this month, SMS messages were sent to many subscribers, warning them not to use fingernails to scratch off the coating on scratch tickets because it contains a substance called "Silver Nitro oxide" that can cause skin cancer.

There were also SMS warning people about cosmic rays from planet Mars into planet earth and that people must switch off their phones in order not to be affected by the ray.

“The information in the warning message is untrue. The coating on scratch tickets is made of specialised latex inks. There are no credible references to a compound called "Silver Nitro oxide". There are no credible medical or scientific reports that suggest that scratch ticket coating has been linked to skin cancer. There are no credible references to an organisation known as the "Medical Research Authority of the United States(US)". The warning is a hoax and should be disregarded, Ogunbanjo said.

Part of the SMS message read: “Medical Research Authority of the US has found new cancer in human beings caused by 'Silver Nitro oxide'. Whenever you buy recharge cards or calling cards don't scratch them with your nail as it contains silver nitro oxide' coating and can cause skin cancer. Copy and paste this status and spread awareness please.”

The message claimed that a substance contained in the coating of recharge cards called 'silver nitro oxide' is the cancer causing agent, and advised people against using their fingernails to remove scratch ticket coating because of the supposed cancer risk.

Ogunbanjo, however, said there was no credible support whatsoever for the claims made in the supposed health alert.

 “The coating on scratch tickets is not made from a substance called 'silver nitro oxide'. In fact, I could not find any evidence that such a compound even exists. There are two chemical compounds with similar names. One is Nitrous oxide, more commonly known as laughing gas, which has been used as an anaesthetic in medical procedures since the 1840's and is also used in rocketry and to enhance engine power in motor racing. The other is Nitrous oxide, a diatomic gas that plays a role as a cell signalling molecule in mammals and is also used as an intermediate in the chemical industry. Neither of these compounds is used to create the coating on scratch tickets. In fact, the coating is created from specialised latex or ultra violet (UV) inks,” Ogunbanjo said.

UV inks, he said,  are essentially a mixture of coloured monomers and oligomers (the individual chemical units that eventually form 'polymers' ) and reaction 'photo-initiators' that become active when exposed to UV radiation.

He further explained that there was no mention of a chemical called silver nitro oxide being used in the UV inks, nor are there any credible reports that suggest a link between inks used on scratch tickets and cancer.

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