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Study Finds Liver Damage Risk for 9/11 First Responders

August 5, 2021 | Michael Barasch

9/11 first responders and people working at the World Trade Center site after 9/11 were recently found to have developed hepatic steatosis – commonly known as fatty liver disease – at four times the rate among the general population.

The study, published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, also found that responders who reached Ground Zero earlier had a higher risk of excessive accumulation of fat in their livers than responders who arrived at the site later and had less exposure.

Often, there are no symptoms of fatty liver disease, although medical imaging or a biopsy could indicate a problem.

In some cases, fatty liver disease could develop into hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) and even cirrhosis, a potentially fatal condition.

Treatment for fatty liver disease typically involves avoiding risk factors for the illness, for example by maintaining a healthy body weight, reducing or even eliminating alcohol consumption, and increasing physical activity.

Currently, the World Trade Center Health Program and the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) do not include fatty liver disease on their lists of “covered conditions” eligible for free health care or a compensation award.

But the health program and the VCF are consistently adding new conditions, and additional evidence helps strengthen the correlation between 9/11 exposure and illnesses such as fatty liver disease.

If you are a 9/11 first responder, speak with your primary care provider about your risk of developing fatty liver disease, and make certain to access all recommended diagnostic tests.

If you are diagnosed with liver disease or any of the 68 cancers or respiratory diseases impacting the 9/11 community, please contact us. 

Visit or call 212-385-8000 today.

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