Study: 9/11 Responders at Increased Risk to Get Cancer

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
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Cancer risk is 15 percent higher in 9/11 responders than the average population not exposed to Ground Zero, a study has found.

Mount Sinai Hospital’s World Trade Center Health Program studied nearly 21,000 rescue and recovery workers who worked at Ground Zero and found more cases of of thyroid, prostate, blood, lymph and soft tissue cancers than expected.

Analyzing data from 2001 to 2008, researchers found 578 cancer cases among 9/11 responders, compared to 499 epidemiologists expect to find in the average population.

The study, published online Tuesday in the Journal of Environmental Health Perspectives, mirrors a Health Department study from 2012 which also found an increase in prostate, thyroid, and blood cancers, like leukemia and lymphoma. A previous study by the Fire Department found that firefighters who responded to Ground Zero had a 19 percent greater risk of cancer than those who did not.

“Just seven years after the attack, our study has shown an increase in cancer even at this early stage,” said Dr. Jacqueline Moline, an author of the Mount Sinai study.

Moline said that cancer linked to carcinogens at Ground Zero could take many years to develop. “The fact that we are seeing early increases in many types of cancers makes it all the more critical for us to be vigilant in our medical surveillance of anyone who had WTC exposure and to provide treatment for them if necessary,” she said.

"The important thing is that we're finding converging results," said Dr. Philip Landrigan, another author of the study and chairman of the department of preventive medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "We're looking at different populations, yet finding the same thing. That's evidence this is a real finding and not a statistical fluke."

After a drawn out political fight, all the cancers listed with the exception of prostate cancer are covered under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, according to the Huffington Post. The Act, signed into law by President Obama in 2011, established the World Trade Center Health Program for treatment and monitoring of the physical and mental health of 9/11 workers and survivors.

The study found thyroid cancer 239 percent higher than expected in the general population. The incidence of soft tissue cancers was 226 percent higher; blood and lymph cancers 36 percent higher; and prostate cancer 21 percent higher.

Responders in the study lived in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New Jersey. Eighty five percent were male, and 59 percent were female. Their median age was 38 on September 11, 2001 and they worked at the site a median of 57 days. Forty three percent were exposed to the dust cloud sent up when the Twin Towers fell.

Sources: NY Daily, Huffington Post