Cancer Fire/emergency medical services

NIOSH: Firefighting increases cancer mortality risks


Photo: JohnnyH5/iStock/Thinkstock

Washington – Firefighting exposures “modestly” increase the risk of death from cancer, according to a NIOSH study.

Researchers gathered nearly six decades of data on firefighters from Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco, comprising almost 20,000 male firefighters with 1,300 cancer deaths and 2,600 cancer incidence cases.

Of eight types of cancers examined, researchers found that lung cancer and leukemia mortality risks increased with firefighter exposures. “These findings add to evidence of a causal association between firefighter and cancer,” they said.

However, researchers urged caution, as the effects were relatively small, and additional research is needed to better understand the link between firefighting and cancer.

The study was published online Feb. 11 in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

The results are the second phase of the study. In the first phase, published in October 2013, researchers found that firefighters had higher rates of several types of cancer.