News Picture: Researchers Seek Firefighters for Data on Cancer Risk

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FRIDAY, April 5, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Learning more about firefighters’ increased risk for certain cancers is the aim of a voluntary registry being created by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

It’s seeking more than 1.1 million firefighters to participate in the National Firefighter Registry.

“Firefighters put their lives on the line to ensure our safety in emergencies, but their jobs may also put them at risk for long-term health effects such as cancer,” Dr. John Howard, director of NIOSH, said in an agency news release.

Firefighters have higher odds for digestive, lung, throat and urinary cancers.

The registry will also highlight advances to safeguard firefighters, including improvements in the design and care of personal protective equipment, as well as practices to reduce exposure to hazardous substances.

“We look forward to receiving this formal input from our partners in the fire service on how we can make sure they are engaged in this process as we move forward. Their contributions will be important to the overall success of this registry,” said Kenny Fent, head of the National Firefighter Registry program.

Enrollment is expected to begin in 2020. The registry is especially seeking minorities and women, who have not been well-represented in past research.

A NIOSH study launched in 2010 included more than 30,000 career firefighters serving between 1950 and 2010, the largest study ever of U.S. firefighters.

It examined not only deaths from cancer, but also diagnoses of certain kinds of cancer, including testicular and prostate cancers, which have higher survival rates. It also looked at other causes of death to better understand firefighters’ risk compared to the general public.

Results of that study led to a call for a national registry with a focus on understudied groups of firefighters, according to NIOSH.

— Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, news release, March 28, 2019