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9/11 First Responders at Greater Risk of Cancer, New Study Shows

June, 2020

Following the attacks of 9/11, thousands of rescue and recovery workers were exposed to a wide range of toxins that are known to cause adverse health effects, including a variety of cancers. A new study shows that 12 years after exposure, there is a statistically significant elevation of cancer incidence among 9/11 first responders. The study, titled “Cancer in General Responders Participating in World Trade Center Health Programs, 2003-2013,” was published in November 2019 in the journal JNCI Cancer Spectrum. For further information about 9/11-related cancers, please contact a 911 cancer claim attorney

Previous Studies Show Strong Cancer Link

It has long been known that the dust cloud of 9/11 contained many substances known to be carcinogenic, including asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls, benzene, and dioxins. Many studies over the years have confirmed this link. A 10-year post-9/11 study conducted by the WTC Health Registry found that recovery workers and others exposed in the vicinity of the WTC site had a statistically significant greater incidence of all cancer types compared to the general population. A 7-year post-9/11 study of the WTC Health Program’s general responder cohort (e.g., law enforcement and construction and telecommunications workers) found a 15% elevation of cancer incidence. Another study of New York City Fire Department firefighters also found a statistically significant elevation of cancer incidence. 

New Study Confirms Previous Findings

The current study examined a total of 28,729 members of the WTC Health Program’s general responder cohort between July 2002 and December 31, 2013. The researchers then divided the group into four exposure levels: 

  • Low: Those not directly in the dust cloud and who worked for fewer than 40 days
  • Medium: Those not directly in the dust cloud who worked for more than 40 days
  • High: Those directly in the dust cloud
  • Very high: Those directly in the dust cloud who worked at least 90 days

The researchers next used cancer registries to identify members of the study group who developed cancer up to December 2013. 

The main area of interest for the researchers was the standardized incidence ratio (SIR), which equals the observed number of cancer cases in the study group divided by the expected number of cases. In this study group, the SIR was 1.09, meaning that the study group contained 109 cases of cancer for every 100 expected cases. The most common cancers among the group were prostate cancer and thyroid cancer, while leukemia also showed a statistically significant increase. The researchers stated that the prevalence of prostate and thyroid cancers among this group indicates that survivors would benefit from the addition of prostate and thyroid screening services from the WTC Health Program. 

Contact a 911 Cancer Claim Attorney for More Information about 9/11-Related Cancer

If you were exposed to the toxic dust of 9/11, you may be entitled to benefits under programs designed to aid 9/11 first responders and survivors. To get started, please contact a 911 cancer claim attorney at Pitta & Baione by using our online form or calling us at 212-658-1766.