The month of October has been declared National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Various major breast cancer charities began the Breast Cancer Awareness Month campaign in order to promote early screening and symptom detection, with the hope of saving the lives of many people. This nation wide campaign is dedicated to raising not only awareness, but also funds for research on prevention and treatment for the deadly disease.
Breast cancer is said to be a hereditary disease genetically passed down from a parent, but many 9/11 victims that lacked genetic history of breast cancer have been diagnosed with the deadly disease. Over 17 years after the tragedy, victims are still suffering from its effects. After the September 11th terrorist attacks, the air within the exposure zone was polluted with toxins and carcinogens that people breathed in for months following the tragedy. The aftermath of the September 11th attacks has been directly linked to causing over 70 types of cancers. First responders, survivors, cleanup workers, volunteers, and residents of the exposure zone all bear the risk of being diagnosed with various cancers. Of the over 70 different types of cancers that the World Trade Center Health Program has linked to being in the exposure zone after September 11, 2001, breast cancer is the sixth most commonly certified.
As of June 30, 2018, about 500 people who were present in the exposure zone after 9/11 have been certified with the World Trade Center Health Program for breast cancer. Breast cancer is one of the top 15 cancers certified by the health program, along with cancers such as Lymphoma, Leukemia, bladder cancer, thyroid cancer, etc. It has been speculated that the link between 9/11 and breast cancer is due to the presence of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the air after the 9/11 attacks. When polychlorinated biphenyls substances are found in the environment and exposed to humans, they are said to enhance the metastatic properties in breast cancer cells and ultimately increase a person’s risk of being diagnosed.
Breast cancer does not only affect women. As talked about in our blog last month, 15 men have been diagnosed with male breast cancer caused by 9/11. This condition has historically affected only 1 percent of males, but the exposure to contaminated air in Lower Manhattan after 9/11 has greatly increased men’s of being diagnosed.
The United States Government passed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health Compensation Act in 2010 in order to compensate for the negative effects victims are still facing 17 years after 9/11. The James Zadroga 9/11 Health Compensation Act provided for the World Trade Center Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. The World Trade Center Health Program offers medical monitoring and care to 9/11 victims, while the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund offers monetary compensation to account for the pain and suffering that victims are still facing today. So far, about 90,000 people have been registered with the World Trade Center Health Program, and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund has awarded about $4 billion of its original $7 billion to victims.
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