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Study shows 9/11 fire fighters likely to have blood cancer

A study published on Thursday said fire fighters exposed to the 9/11 World Trade Centre (WTC) disaster site were facing increased risk of developing myeloma precursor disease or MGUS.


The study was revealed in the journal — JAMA Oncology.

It Explained that MGUS (monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance), the blood’s plasma cells produced an abnormal protein called monoclonal protein that may cause multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that could crowd out the bone marrow’s normal blood-forming cells.

The study analysed blood samples of 781 white, male WTC-exposed fire fighters aged 50 to 79 and compared them with MGUS prevalence in a non-exposed comparison group.

It found that the prevalence of MGUS in the fire fighters was nearly twice as high! noting that most multiple myeloma cases were usually diagnosed in people older than 65, and only five per cent of cases occurred among people under 50.

In a separate analysis, the researchers examined 16 cases of multiple myeloma diagnosed between Sept. 12, 2001 and July 1, 2017 among all white, male WTC-exposed fire fighters in the Fire Department of the City of New York.

Their average age of diagnosis was 57, or 12 years younger than the average age for multiple myeloma diagnosis nationally.

The study’s Senior Co-author Amit Verma, Director of Hematologic Malignancies at the Montefiore Einstein Centre for Cancer Care said “We saw a significantly higher incidence of MGUS in these first responders, and they’re developing it at a young age.”

Their early development of MGUS suggested that these fire fighters potentially faced an increased risk for early-onset of multiple myeloma as well, according to Verma.

Previous studies have shown that MGUS and multiple myeloma all tend to develop after exposure to toxic chemicals.

The aerosolised dust from the collapsed towers exposed fire fighters and other first responders to unprecedented levels of polychlorinated biphenyls, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, dioxins, asbestos and other potential carcinogens, as well as diesel smoke from heavy machinery used in the 10-month rescue and recovery effort.

While not everyone with MGUS would develop multiple myeloma, the researchers recommended that physicians screen first responders exposed to the WTC site.


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