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Firefighters and the statistics behind cancer risks

A firefighting career isn't without its risks, and there's more and more research and data demonstrating a link between job-related exposures and chronic diseases like cancer. NIOSH recently conducted two large-scale studies that looked into firefighters' cancer, which revealed a 9% rise in cancer diagnoses and a 14% rise in cancer-related mortality among firemen compared to the population as a whole in the United States, all at a time when cancer was already widely recognized as a major determinant of mortality among firefighters.

The following cancers are generally accepted as being associated with firefighters' toxic exposure:

Mortality and cancer incidence in firefighters in the United States

There are an estimated 1.1 million volunteer and career firefighting personnel in the United States. These firefighters may be exposed to a variety of known carcinogens, including AFFF (aqueous film-forming foam), while engaged in firefighting activities.

Toxic exposures have raised the specter of an increased incidence of cancer among firemen and have led to numerous exposure studies and epidemiological inquiries. One such study was conducted between 1950-2009 and involved almost 30,000 professional firefighters from departments in San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Chicago. The research was led by NIOSH in partnership with the Department of Public Health Sciences and the National Cancer Institute and was partially funded by the U.S. Fire Administration.

This study is one of the most extensive studies conducted on cancer risk in professional firefighting personnel and the first to identify a correlation between firefighting activity and an increased likelihood of developing solid cancers and mesothelioma.

Below is a brief overview of some of the additional risks for firefighters:

  • Testicular cancer - 2.02 times the risk (again: 100% = double = 2 times)
  • Mesothelioma - 2.0 times greater risk
  • Multiple myeloma -1.53 times greater risk
  • Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma - 1.51 times greater risk
  • Skin cancer - 1.39 times greater risk
  • Malignant melanoma - 1.31 times greater risk
  • Brain cancer - 1.31 times greater risk
  • Prostate cancer - 1.28 times greater risk
  • Colon cancer - 1.21 times great risk and
  • Leukemia - 1.14 times greater risk

In addition to this data, an updated version of this research was conducted and released in 2016, incorporating 7 years of data, which confirmed previous findings of an excess mortality rate for all cancers.

Firefighters at risk for cancer: A comprehensive review and meta-analysis of 32 studies

A detailed analysis of electronic databases and bibliography from designated articles was also carried out and published in a study.

The results revealed that firefighting personnel have a major risk of developing cancer, with a probable carcinogenic risk associated with multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and prostate cancer. Having the highest overall risk estimate, testicular cancer was marked as 'probable'. Additionally, eight more cancers were classified as having possible associations with firefighting.

The final results concur with the initial findings of an increased meta-relative risk for multiple myeloma among firemen, as well as a likely association with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, prostate, and testicular cancer.

Quality assistance for civilian and military firefighters exposed to AFFF

For more than 35 years, Atraxia Law has evaluated toxic exposure claims for those who have suffered as a result of negligence on the part of companies in product liability cases. We provide assistance to firefighting foam cancer survivors across the United States and offer free consultations to all those affected by this devastating condition.

Our team will ensure that your personal injury claim is handled promptly and efficiently, resulting in the highest possible compensation. Once we've thoroughly examined your case, we'll determine whether you qualify to file an AFFF exposure claim. Call us today to schedule a free consultation or fill out our online contact form.