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WTC rescuers have 19% higher risk of cancer

world Updated: Sep 03, 2011 00:06 IST
Sarah Boseley

The destruction of the World Trade Centre has taken a heavy toll on the health of those who tried to rescue people from the burning buildings, those who took part in the clean-up, and those who lived near the site, research shows.

Firefighters who endangered their lives trying to save people have paid a long-term price: a 19% higher risk of cancer as a result of exposure to toxic fumes, according to a study published in a special Lancet series to mark the 10th anniversary of the atrocity. Other research in the series reveals the scale of mental and physical damage suffered by rescuers and witnesses.

One of the strengths of the study, Dr David Prezant, chief medical officer of New York City fire department, said is that every firefighter who was there on 9/11 has had many health checks since. The researchers' efforts to avoid an over-screening bias have brought the percentage estimates down. Originally they found an increase of 32%.