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Firefighters Suffer Higher Rates of Some Forms of Cancer

Posted On: May 29, 2014

According to a recent study conducted by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, firefighters suffer higher rates of cancer than the general population. Cancers of the respiratory, digestive, and urinary systems account for much of the increased rates, with a small to moderate increase in such malignancies. And rates of mesothelioma, an extremely rare cancer often associated with exposure to some types of asbestos, were double that of the general population. This is likely attributable to the fact that firefighters have been exposed to asbestos-containing insulation materials in fires involving older buildings. The full article may be viewed at

Comment: The study included approximately 30,000 individuals who worked as firefighters during the period from 1950-2009. Because asbestos and some various carcinogens have been eliminated from building materials over the last few decades, the study may not represent the current risks associated with firefighting. Nonetheless, we wish to stress the importance of utilizing all protective measures to reduce exposure to toxins and carcinogens.

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