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9/11 first responders face higher cancer risk 20 years later


by Amy Norton healthday reporter

MONDAY, September 13, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Twenty years later, some cancers are at increased risk among responders to the World Trade Center attacks in New York City, two new studies confirm.

Researchers. above average rate of prostate cancer Among firefighters, doctors and other workers working hard at the disaster site on and after September 11, 2001.

And compared to firefighters in other major US cities, those exposed to the 9/11 disaster had a higher risk of both. Prostate And thyroid Cancer.

It is known that World Trade Center rescue and recovery personnel have above average rates of some cancers.

But the new studies help clarify the picture, experts said.

in one, Researchers find increased risk of prostate cancer appears surprisingly early — Five years after respondents came into contact with the Twin Tower site and a cloud of toxic dust covered it.

“We weren’t expecting the latency period to be so short,” said senior researcher Charles Hall, a professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

Often, cancer has a long latency – meaning it develops many years after a person’s initial exposure to the carcinogen.

Hall said the new findings suggest “we should not assume that all cancers have a long latency period.”

And that, he said, could inform the medical follow-up of responders for other large-scale disasters, such as major wildfires.

“That means when we have a disaster like this, we want to set up surveillance as soon as possible,” Hall said.

comparison to other studies New York City firefighters who responded to 9/11 along with firefighters in other large US cities. It found that compared to their colleagues, 9/11 firefighters had a 13% higher risk of developing any type of cancer over the next 15 years.

Two specific cancers emerged: New York City firefighters had more than double the risk of thyroid cancer, and a 39% higher risk of prostate cancer. They were generally about four years younger when they were diagnosed with cancer, the researchers reported.

Hall worked on that study as well. He said the findings strengthen the case that exposure to 9/11 — and not just the general occupational exposure of being a firefighter — is contributing to cancer in some respondents.

Both studies were published on September 10 in the journal occupational and environmental medicine.

A federal law passed in 2010 created the World Trade Center Health Program to provide health care to 9/11 survivors and civilian survivors of the attack. Its benefits include cancer screening.

Dr. Geoffrey Calvert, senior medical advisor for the health program, said the new findings add to the respondents’ understanding of cancer risks.

They agreed that the period between increased prostate cancer risk and increased risk was shorter than expected.

As it stands, however, the World Trade Center has no specific screening recommendations for responders or survivors. They are “similar” to what is normally advised for the public, said Calvert, who wrote an editorial published with the study.

When it comes to prostate cancer screening, men between the ages of 55 and 69 are generally advised to talk to their doctor about whether it’s right for them.

In the new study focused on prostate cancer, Hall’s team looked at data from nearly 54,400 men who responded to the World Trade Center disaster — including firefighters, police, paramedics, construction workers, volunteers and sweepers.

Overall, 1,120 men had been diagnosed with prostate cancer as of 2015. As of 2006, the risk of disease for respondents was no higher than for men in New York State in general.

But it started in 2007, when their risk rose to 24% higher than normal. And firefighters who arrived on the morning of 9/11 were at greater risk than workers who arrived later.

Hall said this is indicative of the “real impact” of exposure to toxic plumes at the site. It is known that the giant cloud contains cancer-causing substances such as dioxins, asbestoshandjob benzene and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), Hall noted.

He advised 9/11 responders to get involved in a health surveillance program, if they haven’t already. “There’s no reason not to, even if you’re healthy — or especially if you are,” Hall said.

Calvert said the program “remains steadfast in its mission.”

“in the middle [program’s] Successes are efforts to ensure excellence and efficiency in medical monitoring and delivery of treatments for both physical and mental health Conditions related to the 9/11 exposure,” he said.

more information

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more world trade center health program.

SOURCES: Charles Hall, PhD, Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City; Geoffrey Calvert, MD, senior medical advisor, World Trade Center Health Program, US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Washington, DC; occupational and environmental medicine, September 10, 2021, online

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