We have long written that rescue and recovery workers who responded to the September 11th World Trade Center (WTC) terrorist attacks may be at an increased risk of certain types of cancer. Now, an emerging study confirms that these responders have cancer rates that are 15 percent greater than people who were not exposed to Ground Zero dust.
The study, conducted by Mount Sinai Hospital’s World Trade Center Health Program, revealed an increase in three cancers—of the thyroid; prostate; and blood, such as leukemia and lymphoma, said The New York Daily News. The team analyzed data from 20,984 participants in the WTC Health Program from 2001 to 2008. A total of 575 cases of these cancers were seen, compared with the 499 that epidemiologists (disease specialists) expected to see in a general population group of that size sample, said The Daily News. The findings were published online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
“Just seven years after the attack, our study has shown an increase in cancer even at this early stage,” said Dr. Jacqueline Moline, one of the study’s authors. According to Moline, cancers linked to the known carcinogenic toxins seen at the WTC site 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,” Moline added, according to The Daily News.
A study conducted in 2012 by the city Health Department revealed similar findings and also noted that it might take years for these cancers be diagnosed. A prior Fire Department study found that firefighters who worked at the WTC site suffered from a 19 percent increased likelihood of developing cancer compared to people who did not work there, The Daily News, said.
After much debate, the federal government finally agreed to add 50 different cancers to the illnesses covered by the Zadroga compensation law; however, prostate cancer was not among those cancers, according to The Daily News.
The Zadroga Act, which was passed in December 2010, reopened the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund for five years to provide payment for job and economic losses for first responders, those trapped in the buildings, and local residents, who suffered illness or injuries related to the toxic dust.
On the eve of the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, federal health officials finally acknowledged a link between toxic Ground Zero dust and cancer. At around the same time, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) announced that more than 50 different types of cancers would be covered under the Zadroga Act. The decision will allow financially strapped Ground Zero first responders, who’ve since developed cancer, to access funds to cover their soaring healthcare costs.
Researchers have said that exposure to dust, smoke, and other chemicals that lingered following the 9/11 attacks, may have put those who nearby or involved in the clean-up at risk for developing a number of diseases, including cancer.