Study: Cancer Risk Higher for WTC Firefighters

Firefighters who worked at Ground Zero after the 9/11 terror attacks are 19 percent more likely to get cancer than colleagues who did not toil at the noxious site, according to an alarming study the FDNY released yesterday.

"When we compared New York City firefighters exposed to the World Trade Center versus New York City firefighters who were not exposed, there was an increased likelihood for the development of any type of cancer of 19 percent," said Dr. David Prezant, the FDNY's chief medical officer.

Listen to Dr. Prezant talk about the study (mp3)

Prezant conducted a seven-year, federally funded study of 9,853 male firefighters -- 8,927 of whom were exposed to the chemicals.

The findings will be published in The Lancet medical journal.

The study does not include cancer occurrences over the past three years, but that data is under review, Prezant said.

Women and emergency medical technicians were excluded because their populations are too small to be statistically significant, Prezant said. He added that a separate EMT study is under way.

The FDNY study found 263 cases of cancer in the exposed group -- 38 more cases than the non-exposed group and 25 more than a comparable sampling of the general population.

While the toxins are linked to a spike in the cancer rate, the figures are not enough to classify it as an epidemic, Prezant said.

The review found 27 cancer deaths in the force among those diagnosed during the review.

Prezant is turning over his findings to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which oversees the federal James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which provides a fund for ailing first responders.

NIOSH announced in July there is not enough medical evidence to cover cancer in the law, but spokesman Fred Blosser said it will review the new data and issue another report in mid-2012.

Republished with permission of The New York Post

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