Study indicates firefighters diagnosed with mesothelioma at twice the rate of general population

23 Jan 2014 by under News, Research/Treatment

fire 100x100 Study indicates firefighters diagnosed with mesothelioma at twice the rate of general populationA recent study by the (NIOSH) revealed firefighters had a rate of mesothelioma two times greater than the rate in the U.S. as a whole. The research included a combined population of nearly 30,000 firefighters from Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco fire departments who were employed since 1950.

In addition to the higher rates of mesothelioma, the firefighters involved in the study exhibited higher rates of several other types of cancers, and of all cancers combined, than the U.S. population as a whole. These most often included cancers of the respiratory, digestive and urinary systems.

NIOSH researchers believe the excess of mesothelioma among firefighters is likely associated with exposure to , which is the only known cause of mesothelioma. According to the NIOSH report, this is the first study ever to identify an excess of mesothelioma among firefighters in the U.S.

The study was conducted jointly by NIOSH and the U.S. Fire Administration. Researchers examined mortality patterns and cancer incidence among 29,993 U.S. career firefighters who were employed between 1950-2009. Researchers found firefighters may be exposed to known cancer-causing contaminants while fighting fires, usually by-products of combustion. This includes asbestos in debris from older structures.

Asbestos was commonly used in construction, mostly for insulation and fire protection, up until the 1970s, when it was largely banned. However, asbestos could still be found in many products through the mid-1980s. Asbestos is not hazardous when intact, but becomes dangerous when it is disturbed and broken or crushed, as in building demolition and renovation.

The results of the study were first published October 14, 2013 in the international peer-reviewed journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The study did not address other risk factors for cancer, including smoking, diet and alcohol consumption.


U.S. Fire Administration

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