A team of New York researchers has presented new findings showing that firefighters who reacted to the chaotic scene of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center are twice as likely as the average citizen (19659002) to be a state which can lead to multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer.
The team was the first in a 2011 study to show that 9/11 responders are more likely to develop cancers than other people. In the chaos of the day, they were exposed to an unprecedented amount of aerosol dust from the collapsed skyscrapers. All types of carcinogens – polychlorinated biphenyls, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, dioxins, asbestos, and diesel smoke ̵
"We've done this new study to treat more than just cancer," says David Prezant, one of the co-authors of the study, in a statement. "We wanted to find early, predictive signs of cancer that would allow us to screen people and monitor those at risk."
The researchers were able to do just that by discovering the precursor disease. The study included two groups. The first group comprised 781 white male firefighters who were at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The second group comprised white men who lived in Olmsted County, Minnesota – more than 1,100 miles from New York City – who were never exposed to the same toxic air conditions. The scientists took blood samples from participants every two to twelve months to see if the men had biomarkers of precursor disease or not.
In the end, the researchers found that first responders in New York City had twice the prevalence of the Minnesota group. In particular, they found 7.63 cases of precursor disease per 100 New York firefighters compared to 4.34 cases per 100 Minnesotans. The scientists also found that 16 firefighters already had multiple myeloma, a rate about 1.8 times higher than in the Minnesota group.
In many cases, myeloma precursor causes no problems, but multiple myeloma can occur. In cases where people develop multiple myeloma, the disease is almost always preceded by precursor disease.
In a separate, but related study, also published in JAMA Oncology, another group of researchers estimated the number of New York firefighters exposed to the World Trade Center will be between 1 January 2012 and 21 January. By December 2031, more than 2,700 cancer cases were diagnosed, slightly higher than the state average of New York. They also predicted that the healthcare costs associated with treating these cases would exceed $ 235 million.
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