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No Surprise Here: 9/11 Responders at Higher Risk for Cancer

Cancer rates are 15 percent higher in 9/11 responders than in the general population, according to a recent Mount Sinai Hospital’s World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) report. Epidemiologists examined data collected from 20,984 participants between 2001 and 2008, finding 575 cases of cancer instead of the expected 499. Thyroid, prostate and blood cancers (like leukemia and lymphoma) were the most common. The WTCHP study — the first to correlate cancer rates to levels of WTC dust exposure — found that cancer rates increased with the degree of contact.  The WTCHP researchers are especially concerned to find slow-forming cancers appearing so quickly.

The study should silence nay-sayers who claim that there is no scientific evidence that exposure to toxins at Ground Zero causes cancer. The 2010 James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act reopened and expanded the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund to provide health monitoring and financial aid to sick 9/11 workers. However, cancers were excluded, even though workers were certainly exposed to known and suspected carcinogenic chemicals in jet fuel and dust at Ground Zero.

Fifty cancers were finally added to the list in June 2012 — almost 10 years after the September 11, 2001 attacks.  However, prostate cancer — one of the most common cancers found by the WTCHP — was excluded. An announcement is expected shortly adding prostate cancer to the “approved illnesses” list.

Meanwhile, those who answered our country’s call for help when it was most needed, are suffering and dying. The median age of the 20,984 responders was 38 on 9/11. Their median working time at Ground Zero was 57 days. They are:

  • 85% male
  • 59% white
  • 58% never smoked
  • 43% were exposed to the dust cloud on September 11, 2001

One of the study participants was 40-year-old NYPD Lieutenant Steven Cioffi who worked at Ground Zero for four months. He suffered from a rare, aggressive from of non-small-cell carcinoma which spread from his lungs to his brain, lung and liver. Cioffi died in March 2013, leaving behind his wife and twin baby girls.

To learn more about the health and financial benefits available through the Victim Compensation Fund and the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, contact the dedicated attorneys at Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson. We have collected more money for responders than any other law firm in the country.

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