Studies: 9/11 Firefighters More Likely to Get Cancer

Posted September 1st, 2011 at 8:10 pm (UTC-5)
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Firefighters who rushed to the rescue in New York City after the September 11 terrorist attacks are finding the health consequences still unfolding.

New studies published Thursday in the Lancet medical journal say a decade after the attacks, firefighters who were exposed to toxic fumes and dust clouds are significantly more likely to get cancer and also to develop a host of other physical and mental ailments.

One study analyzed the health records of more than 9,000 firefighters and found that those who were at the World Trade Center after the terrorist attack are 19 percent more likely to develop cancer than their colleagues not at the scene that day.

Study director David Prezant, the New York fire department's chief medical officer, said the results are “biologically plausible” because the disaster at the World Trade Center sent a number of cancer-causing chemicals and particles into the air.

A previous study by the U.S. government concluded there was not enough evidence yet to support a link between the 9/11 attacks and cancer. Those results mean that firefighters and other rescue workers with cancer cannot receive compensation from a special government fund dedicated to helping rescue workers who became ill.

A second study analyzed health records of more than 27,000 rescue workers and found large percentages of 9/11 responders are now suffering from a range of illnesses — including asthma, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.