Lifestyle & Belief

Overall cancer rate for 9/11 responders no different than for general population: study


The annual “Tribute in Light” memorial echoing the twin towers of the World Trade Center illuminates the night sky during the 10th Anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks.


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The largest study to date of the issue, has found no definite connection between the debris from the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attack and cancer, the New York Times reported.

“In both the rescue recovery workers and the non-rescue recovery workers, we did not find any different overall cancer rate from what we determined from the background rate from the New York State Cancer Registry,” Dr. Steven D. Stellman told CBS News.

More from GlobalPost: Cancers linked to 9/11 attacks covered by Zadroga law

The New York City health department looked at 55,700 people who inhaled dust and fumes following the collapse of the Twin Towers, the New York Times reported. Researchers studied people who’d been in lower Manhattan on the day of the attack and recovery workers who spent time at the attack site and at the Staten Island landfill in the months following Sept. 11.

Overall, the researchers found no increase in the incidence of 23 cancers among their study subjects between 2003 and 2008 compared with the cancer rate of the general population, the New York Times reported. Their findings were published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

However, prostate cancer, thyroid cancer and multiple myeloma (cancer of the bone marrow cells) were slightly more common in rescue and recovery workers during the last two years of the study, Reuters reported.

According to Reuters:

Aid workers were between 1.4 and 2.9 times more likely to be diagnosed with one of those cancers in 2007 or 2008 than other New Yorkers.

Dr. Jacqueline Moline from North Shore-LIJ Health System in Great Neck, NY, who was not involved in the study, told Reuters that rescue workers in the study may have received more health care since the attack and so been checked for prostate and thyroid cancer more frequently, leading to higher diagnosis rates.

“What’s most important here is that it’s still early,” New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley told 1010 WINS, according to CBS News. “Cancer could take up to 20 years to develop and so we’re going to have to continue to watch this over the long term to see whether those three increases continue and to see what happens with overall cancer rates.”