In a study from the Fire Brigades Union and elsewhere, scientists found that firefighters’ death rate from all cancers is 1.6 times higher than the general population.
They also found that firefighters are dying from a heart attack at 5 times the rate of the general public and almost at 3 times the rate of a stroke.
In the study, the team used mortality records from the National Records of Scotland.
They also found the mortality rates for certain types of cancer are much higher in firefighters, including Prostate—3.8 times higher, Leukemia—3.17 times higher, and Esophageal—2.42 times higher.
In instances where cancer with an unknown origin has spread, the rate was 6.37 times higher than the general population.
The team says the excess cancer mortality observed in Scottish firefighters for several types of cancer is likely linked to different kinds of exposures, and/or fire toxins.
For example, cancers of the esophagus and digestive organs point to at a potentially significant contribution from ingestion, which may occur when firefighters swallow mucus in which fire effluent has become trapped, or if they have eaten food with contaminated hands.
Meanwhile, death risks from leukemia cancer are linked to exposure to other chemicals such as benzene from contact with skin or inhalation.
The team concludes that health monitoring for firefighters; reducing their exposure to contaminants at their workplace; and financial and medical support for those already affected are urgently needed.
The team says scientists already knew that fire contaminants were very likely causing cancer and other diseases in firefighters.
Now, the study shows evidence that cements that belief and also shows that contaminants can impact their mental health.
No firefighter should suffer unnecessarily and there is much more that fire services can be done to reduce exposure to fire contaminants.
If you care about cancer, please read studies that a low-carb diet could increase overall cancer risk, and vitamin D supplements could strongly reduce cancer death.
If you care about heart health, please read studies about how eating eggs can help reduce heart disease risk, and Vitamin C linked to lower risk of heart failure.
The study was conducted by Professor Anna Stec et al and published in the Journal of Occupational Medicine.
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