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January 22, 2019

First responders to the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center continue to suffer ongoing health problems. A new study conducted by Rutgers University has found a 40 percent increase in the number of head and neck cancers between 2009 and 2012.

The trend was first noted when clinicians treating WTC-exposed responders at Rutgers’ World Trade Center Health Program became concerned about an unusually high number of patients with oropharyngeal and laryngeal cancers.

“This excess occurrence in head and neck cancers is plausible since first responders inhaled debris clouds containing many known carcinogens,” said lead author Judith Graber, an associate professor at Rutgers School of Public Health and a researcher at Rutgers Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute.

The study also found that head and neck cancers were most associated with responders who were over 55, were non-Hispanic whites, or who worked in military or protective service occupations and performed rescue and recovery and maintained the perimeter after the attacks.

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