There has been an increased number of cancer diagnoses among rescue and recovery workers who attended the World Trade Center site after the 9/11 attacks, according to a new analysis.
The workers appear to have a raised risk of cancer overall, particularly leukaemia and thyroid and prostate cancers, in the following 12 years.
The study was done by a team at the Mount Sinai Health System, New York, USA, and published in the journal JNCI Cancer Spectrum.
Professor Susan Teitelbaum and colleagues examined the risk of thousands of workers, who were were exposed to “an array of toxins known to cause adverse health effects”, on 11th September 2001 and in weeks and months following,
They looked at outcomes for 28,729 members of the General Responder Cohort followed from July 2002 to the end of 2013. During this time there were 1,072 cancer diagnoses in 999 responders.
Compared with the general population, there was a 9% increased risk for all cancers combined. The increase in risk for prostate cancer was 25%, for leukaemia it was 41% and for thyroid cancer it was more than doubled.
The team write: “Our analyses show statistically significant elevations in cancer incidence for all cancer sites combined and for prostate and thyroid cancers and leukaemia.”
But they add that following multivariate analyses, the severity or type of toxin exposure did not seem to have an effect.
Professor Teitelbaum says: “This study showed increased incidence of several cancer types compared to previously conducted studies with shorter follow-up periods.
“Because of the long latency period of many types of cancer, it is possible that increased rates of other cancers, as well as World Trade Center exposure health issues, may emerge after longer periods of study.”
Shapiro MZ, Wallenstein SR, Dasaro CR, Lucchini RG, Sacks HS, Teitelbaum SL, Thanik ES, Crane MA, Harrison DJ, Luft BJ, Moline JM, Udasin IG, Todd AC (2020) “Cancer in General Responders Participating in World Trade Center Health Programs, 2003–2013” JNCI Cancer Spectrum, doi: 10.1093/jncics/pkz090