September 11 rescue workers have higher leukemia rates: study

NY: Researchers have found a high incidence of leukemia in rescue and recovery workers who were on the World Trade Center site after the September 11 attacks, adding that the overall incidence of cancer has also increased, particularly those thyroid and prostate cancers.

After the attacks, 50,000 workers were involved in rescue and recovery, and many of them were trapped directly in the dust cloud of collapsed towers.

Site clean-up was completed in June 2002 and workers were potentially exposed to a variety of toxins, which were later shown to cause adverse health effects, including cancer, said researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital.

“This study showed a higher incidence of several types of cancer compared to previous studies with shorter follow-up periods,” said Susan Teitelbaum, a professor of environmental medicine and public health at Mount Sinai.

“Due to the long latency period of many types of cancer, rates of other types of cancer may increase, as well as the World Trade Center exposure health problems, after longer periods of study,” he added in the study published in the journal JNCI Cancer Spectrum.

This study examined the incidence of cancer in respondents, including law enforcement, construction and telecommunications workers, and found a higher overall incidence of cancer, with the highest elevation in thyroid cancer.

“It is the first to show an increase in leukemia, which is known to occur after exposure to occupational carcinogens, including benzene fuel and other sources that existed on the World Trade Center site, in some cases at low levels of exposure and with a latency of several years since the exhibition, “the authors wrote.

The researchers also discovered that neither the period of time that first responders and recovery workers worked at the World Trade Center site, nor the intensity of their exposure, influenced the development of elevated cancers.

However, some risk factors, such as the respondent’s age on September 11, their gender and if they were smokers at that time, were associated with an increased risk of cancer.

For the study, the researchers studied the incidence of cancer after September 11 among 28,729 rescue and recovery workers through cancer registry data from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Florida and North Carolina from 2002 to 2013

Almost 3,000 people died in the attacks of the twin towers.

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