Cancer among 9/11 responders is 15% higher than among people not exposed to the Ground Zero toxins, a study by Mount Sinai Hospital’s World Trade Center Health Program has found.
The increase was seen primarily in three types of the disease, thyroid, prostate and blood cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma.
Researchers analyzing data from 20,984 participants in the WTC Health Program from 2001 to 2008 found 575 cases of cancer, compared with the 499 epidemiologists expected to see in the general population for that size sample.
The findings will be published online Tuesday in the medical 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.
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She said that cancers linked to carcinogens found at the World Trade Center 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.
The Mount Sinai findings echo a city Health Department study last year that also found a spike in prostate, thyroid and blood cancers.
And a previous study by the Fire Department found firefighters who worked at the collapsed twin towers have a 19% greater chance of getting cancer than those who did not work there.
Enid Alvarez/New York Daily NewsDr. Jacqueline Moline says it's bad sign to see an increase in the cancer rate already, because cancers linked to carcinogens found at the World Trade Center site take many years to develop.
While the federal government agreed after a long political fight to add 50 types of cancer to illnesses covered by the Zadroga compensation law, prostate cancer was not among them.
John Feal, who lost part of his foot in the attacks and now heads up the Feal Good Foundation, an advocacy group for 9/11 responders, said he was not surprised by the latest study.
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“All of the studies are just proof of what we have been saying for years: 9/11 toxins have made these heroic men and women sick,” he said.
He said advocates will not rest until prostate cancer is added to the Zadroga bill.
“It needs to be on the list like yesterday. I know more people with prostate cancer than any other cancer in the 9/11 community,” Feal said.
The study looked at responders from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
Responders were primarily male (85%), white (59%) and those who had never smoked (58%). They had a median age of 38 on 9/11.
Forty-three percent were exposed to the dust cloud on Sept. 11, 2001. Their median time working at the site was 57 days.