Cancer and your Local Firehouse

Numerous studies have proven that the risk of being diagnosed with cancer is higher among firefighters than the general population. One such study, conducted in 2006 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, reviewed 32 studies on firefighters to determine the cancer risk. The study’s results confirmed previous findings of an elevated risk for multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, prostate, and testicular cancers. Eight additional cancers were listed as having a “possible” association with firefighting. Similarly, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reviewed 42 studies and reported significant summary risks for prostatic and testicular cancers and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, concluding that firefighter exposures were “possibly” carcinogenic to humans.

In a three-year study completed in 2005 by the University of Cincinnati, researchers concluded that firefighters face a:

102% greater chance of contracting testicular cancer than any other type of worker;
53% greater chance of multiple myeloma;
51% greater chance of non-Hodgkin lymphoma;
39% greater chance of skin cancer;
32% greater chance of brain cancer;
28% greater chance of prostate cancer;
22% greater chance of stomach cancer; and a
21% greater chance of colon cancer.

“Firefighters are exposed to numerous cancer-causing substances,” said head researcher Grace LeMasters. “I think obviously they have not got enough protection from that exposure. We feel that the protective gear that protects them from acute exposures, such as heat and carbon monoxide, doesn’t protect them from the chemical residues that cause cancer.”




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