9/11 Firefighters Battle Cancer

World Trade Center firefighters have greater incidence of cancer

(RxWiki News) The 9/11 nightmare lives on in the bodies - as well as the minds - of firefighters who were on the scene that fateful day. New research shows these heroes live with increased risks of cancer.

A recently published study finds that male firefighters who were at the World Trade Center on 9/11 have had a 19 percent greater incidence of cancer than their colleagues who were not on the scene.

"More 9/11 firefighters now battling cancer."

A seven-year study of 9,853 male firefighters looked at the impact of exposure to the WTC environment on 9/11 and cancer incidence. Researchers compared the rates of cancer in these men to cancer rates in non-exposed firefighters and the general population.

After exclusions because of age, prior or existing health conditions and other factors, the study found the following:

  • 19 percent more cases of cancer in 9/11 fighters compared to firefighters who were not at the WTC that day
  • 263 cases of cancer in WTC-exposed firefighters vs. 238 expected in the general population
  • 135 cases in non-exposed firefighters vs. 161 expected in population

Study authors believe that contaminants in the WTC dust, including known carcinogens - olycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls, and dioxins - likely account for this trend.

Such exposure could cause cancer due to chronic inflammation, infections and autoimmune diseases, the authors conclude.

This study was published in the 9/11 Special Issue of The Lancet.

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Review Date: 
September 2, 2011