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Study Finds Higher Myeloma Risk for 9/11 Firefighters

August 30, 2022 | Michael Barasch

A recent study published in Blood Cancer Journal found a higher risk of multiple myeloma precursor disease in FDNY firefighters who were exposed to Ground Zero toxins at the World Trade Center site on and after 9/11.

The firefighters included in the study had nearly double – 180% – the normal risk of developing myeloma precursor disease, which could ultimately develop into multiple myeloma.

Myeloma forms in a type of white blood cell called a plasma cell. Healthy plasma cells help you fight infections by making antibodies that recognize and attack germs.

But with multiple myeloma, cancerous plasma cells accumulate in the bone marrow and block healthy blood cells. Rather than produce helpful antibodies, the cancer cells produce abnormal proteins that could lead to complications.

A report from the American Cancer Society estimates that 34,470  new cases of multiple myeloma will be diagnosed in 2022.

Major risk factors for multiple myeloma include old age, male gender, family history, obesity, having other plasma cell diseases, and exposure to Ground Zero toxins after 9/11.

The most common symptoms of multiple myeloma are bone pain, especially in the spine or chest, nausea, constipation, loss of appetite, mental fogginess or confusion, fatigue, frequent infections, weight loss, weakness or numbness in the legs, and excessive thirst.

Accessing treatment through the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program – which might include chemotherapy, radiation, medication, and bone marrow transplant – could dramatically improve your quality of health if started early.

If you were in Lower Manhattan on or after 9/11, you have the right to register with the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) – even if currently healthy – and enroll in the WTC Health Program if you are diagnosed with the 9/11-related illness.

The health program provides free, comprehensive medical care to 9/11 victims for their 9/11-related illnesses. The fund offers tax-free awards for pain and suffering, lost earnings, and benefits for surviving spouses and family members.

The victim fund offers tax-free awards for pain and suffering, lost earnings, and benefits for surviving spouses and family members.

For the WTC Health Program, the exposure zone includes all of Manhattan below Houston Street and parts of Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO in Brooklyn.

For the 9/11 VCF, the exposure zone includes the area of Manhattan south of Canal Street and west of Clinton Street.

Barasch & McGarry, Lawyers for the 9/11 Community, represents more than 30,000 members of the 9/11 community.

If you were exposed to Ground Zero toxins which increase the risk of developing 8 types of cancer and many respiratory illnesses, you should know your health status. 

Protect yourself by visiting a primary care provider regularly and reporting any problems that could indicate multiple myeloma. Don’t let a delayed diagnosis become a death sentence.

If you are diagnosed with multiple myeloma or any of the other cancers or respiratory diseases impacting the 9/11 community, please contact us to access health care and compensation. 

Visit or call 212-385-8000 today.

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