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The results of the latest in a number of studies suggest that the people involved in the rescue and recovery operation following the September 11 attack at the World Trade Center are at an increased risk of developing myeloma and other cancers.

Published in the December 2012 issue of the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association, the study involved an analysis of the information collected from 55,778 people enrolled in the World Trade Center Health registry between 2003 and 2004. Of these, 21,850 were rescue/recovery workers.

Between enrolment and December 2008, 1,187 new cancer diagnoses were made, of which 37% were in rescue/recovery workers. There was no significant difference in the incidence of all cancers between rescue/recovery workers and non-rescue/ recovery workers. However, there was a significant increase in the incidence of myeloma, prostate and thyroid cancer in rescue/recovery workers compared to non-rescue/recovery workers.

The authors suggest that in this instance, exposure to factors already suspected of causing myeloma may explain the increased risk of developing it over other cancers. However, they also say that much longer follow-up and more data are needed before a conclusion can be reached.

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