By Susan Edelman and Sally Goldenberg
The New York Post
NEW YORK — The Fire Department plans to release a study that claims firefighters who responded to the World Trade Center after the 9/11 terror attacks are suffering an increased rate of cancer — contradicting a recent federal analysis that failed to make the link, The Post has learned.
In a report to be published in early September in The Lancet medical journal, the FDNY will claim it has discovered an increasing rate of blood cancers among firefighters who worked at the collapsed Twin Towers after Sept. 11, several sources said.
"Before 9/11, the incidents of cancer with firefighters was significantly less than that of the general population and the incidents after 9/11 put firefighters equivalent to the general population," one source said of FDNY's findings.
The FDNY's chief medical officer, Dr. David Prezant, has been studying the medical records of the agency's roughly 11,000 firefighters and officers in the aftermath of Sept. 11, comparing the data to records of the same firefighters before the terrorist attacks. The seven-year, federally funded study is expected to contradict the findings of a national report released in July that concluded there is not enough evidence to link toxins at Ground Zero to cancer rates among first responders.
Word of the FDNY study brought some hope to cancer-stricken Sept. 11 first responders, though many remain skeptical that the feds will act on the evidence.
"It's not shocking to me," said retired NYPD Detective John Walcott, 46, who was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2003.
"I've met more people who worked at Ground Zero with my type of cancer in the last eight years than I did at my doctor's office," Walcott said. "I didn't need a study to know the numbers would be astronomical."
Many first responders and local politicians were furious with last month's findings by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health that failed to make a link between cancer and exposure to Ground Zero toxins.
That report, overseen by 9/11 health czar Dr. John Howard, has been cited in a decision announced yesterday not to include cancer among the medical issues that will be covered under the $4.3 billion James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.
Sheila Birnbaum, special master for the Zadroga fund, announced yesterday that she was accepting Howard's determination, although that could change in the future if more evidence turns up to make a clear connection between 9/11 and cancer.
Copyright 2011 N.Y.P. Holdings, Inc.
All Rights Reserved