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World Trade Center Rescue at Increased Risk for Cancer

Posted on December 19 2012

The attacks on the World Trade Center on September, 11th 2001 made a large impact on our nation and will continue to do so for many years to come. One of the looming potential fallouts of the event include the future health problems, including cancer, that may be endured by first responders and those involved with cleanup. A new study has started to focus on developments of health problems in this group. This is the first extensive study to be done since the attacks, but has created more questions than concrete answers. The study looked at almost 56,000 people that have been enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Registry. Researchers reviewed the state cancer records to see if any correlation appeared. Their findings showed a total of 1,187 cases of cancer development among those included in the registry. Three cancers stuck out as the most prevalent: cancers of the prostate and thyroid, as well as multiple myeloma. In the time frame between 2007 and 2008 aid workers displayed a 1.4 to 2.9 percent higher risk of developing cancer. These statistics were based off the finding of 67 cases of prostate cancer, 13 cases of thyroid cancer, and 7 cases of multiple myeloma within the aid worker group. However, there is a small issue with these findings and researchers acknowledge this fact. There has just simply not been enough time to get down to the truth of the situation. It can take a cancer up to 20 years to come into full development. Researchers are operating on a time frame of basically half of that. Additionally, many of the cancers appear to have been developed regardless of whether the patient had come in contact with the debris, dust, and carcinogens let loose by the attack. Full risks just cannot be evaluated at this point, which causes another problem. The James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act was set up to provide care for World Trade Center Victims. The healthcare monitoring and treatment through this compensation act is set to end in 2016, 5 years before the 20 year cancer development mark. The program itself has had many difficulties determining exactly who can receive healthcare from the act and what ailments are covered. This study was supposed to help figure some of the logistics out, but instead has opened many more questions. Researchers are now trying to figure out why cases of prostate cancer would be higher in rescue workers than any other group involved with the after-efforts.  Additionally, there is still research to be done on the complicated mixture of carcinogens that were inhaled by those involved in clean-up and those who were in the direct area the day of the attack. These carcinogenic mixtures have brought on respiratory disorders and asthma as acute symptoms, but any long-term cancer development is too far away to even be a blip on the radar. Some adjustments may have to be made until the full scope of the healthcare risk has been discovered. Those relying on the James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act to help get them through their health troubles may be out of luck when a cancer shows up in their health screenings. Researchers have already committed to continuing the study until they have gathered answers to the questions, some of which are long-standing, and some of which have just been opened by this recent study. Sources: New York Times - http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/19/nyregion/no-clear-link-between-cancer-and-9-11-debris-new-york-health-dept-study-finds.html?pagewanted=all USA Today - http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2012/12/18/terror-attack-cancer/1777969/ Reuters - http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/18/us-9-11-responders-idUSBRE8BH18R20121218

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