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9/11 causes cancer

Published time: September 02, 2011 16:52
Edited time: September 09, 2011 12:11
Early morning light illuminates the wreckage of the World Trade Center (AFP Photo / Eric FEFERBERG)

Early morning light illuminates the wreckage of the World Trade Center (AFP Photo / Eric FEFERBERG)

It took a decade, but doctors are now confirming that firefighters that responded to Ground Zero during the September 11 terrorist attacks have a higher risk of getting cancer.

The latest study published by Dr David Prezant of the New York City Fire Department says that firefighters that were exposed to the dust and smoke that came from the collapse of the Twin Towers have a 19 percent higher risk of getting various types of cancer than their peers that were not on the scene.

Cancer-causing toxins including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls and dioxins have all been identified as agents apparent at Ground Zero. In his findings, Dr. Prezant explicitly writes that "This study clearly shows World Trade Center exposure in these firefighters led to an increase in cancer.” He analyzed data from nearly 10,000 male firefighters before coming to his conclusion.

Only two months ago the National Institute for Occupation Safety and Health published that they could not link first responders that aided on 9/11 with cancer, much to the chagrin of countless firefighters that have since seen their colleagues succumb to various forms of the disease. Upon the publishing of that paper, firefighter Kenneth Specht told the Daily News, "Every time we bury a New York City firefighter: Cancer. Cancer. Cancer.” Specht himself has been fighting a battle with thyroid cancer in the decade since 9/11.

Firefighters have been waiting for a study to finally link 9/11 with cancer, as those suffering have been unable to collect health insurance benefits as medical officials have been unable to show a correlation until now. The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act has covered illnesses such as asthma but could not find a correlation between cancer and exposure to the aftermath of the terrorist attacks. Dr James Melius of the New York State Laborers' Health Fund now says that Dr Prezant’s study supports the addition of cancer to some federally funded compensation, reports Reuters.

The latest study looks at cancers that developed up until 2008 and took into account several factors, including ethnicity and age, to insure that results would not be skewed. Prezant concluded from his findings that an increased risk in developing several types of cancer can be linked to firefighters that were at the scene, as he did not limit his research to any one type of cancer.

Following the release of that initial document in July, several members of Congress issued a statement that they believed in time doctors would be able to link toxins at Ground Zero with cancer. At the time they said that the announcement would not be the last word in the study and have remained hopeful since.

Prezant’s study was published in September 3 edition of The Lancet, a medical journal out of the UK.

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