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Firefighters Become Cancer-Fighters

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As the 10th anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001, approach, a newly published study in the Lancet says firefighters who worked in the wreckage of the Twin Towers are 19 percent more likely to develop cancer than firefighters who were not there, reports The New York Times' Sydney Ember. Researchers analyzed data from almost 10,000 New York City firefighters in the seven years after the 9/11 attacks, 8,927 of which were classified as having been exposed to the World Trade Center site soon after the attack. "There were 263 cancer cases in the exposed population, reflecting a cancer rate 19 percent higher than that of the group not exposed. The cancer rate of the exposed group was only 10 percent higher than that of American men over all," Ember says. "And the group of firefighters who were not exposed had a lower rate than the general population, which the researchers said may be a result of their overall physical fitness and low smoking rates." Cancer is not on the list of illnesses covered by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, passed earlier this year by the US Congress. The law does require periodic reviews, however, of studies to assess whether new illnesses need to be added to the list, Ember adds. "The research team said the findings should be interpreted cautiously because many cancers caused by exposure to substances found at the site, including asbestos and jet fuel, can take decades to manifest," Ember says.

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