Toxic exposure gives firefighters higher risk of some cancers, study says

Rushing into infernos seems risky enough, but new findings suggest flames may be the least of a firefighter’s worries. Researchers at the University of Cincinnati say blaze-battlers face a higher risk of developing some cancers than the general population, likely due to their exposure to chemicals, including benzene and styrene. In a review of 32 U.S. and European studies, researchers found a 100 percent higher rate of testicular cancer, 50 percent higher rate of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma, and 28 percent higher rate of prostate cancer in firefighters. The study, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, is the largest to date looking at cancer risk in this profession. “This research highlights the need to constantly monitor and assess people’s workplace exposure to cancer-causing chemicals,” said Henry Scowcroft of Cancer Research U.K., “so that firefighters and other at-risk groups are properly protected whilst carrying out their jobs.”