Study: Firefighters twice as likely to be diagnosed with cancer - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Study: Firefighters twice as likely to be diagnosed with cancer

KMOV.com -

As though the job of a firefighter was not difficult enough, a study is showing the job comes with a higher risk of cancer-related deaths. 

In 2010, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a multi-year study that looked at the causes of death and diagnoses of more than 30,000 firefighters from 1950 to 2010. The study released it's data this year, and found that a firefighters are twice as more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than the general population. 

More than two-thirds of firefighters are diagnosed with some form of cancer. 

It's a fact that Kurt Becker, the vice president of the St. Louis firefighter's, union says they have known for 20 years. 

"When we go into these toxic environments, these are hot, these are violent, these are dangerous incidents," Becker said. "Our guys are, their heart rates are very high. Consequently, they absorb a tremendous amount of this stuff through their skin."

The study found that exposure to toxic chemicals, like asbestos and other chemicals released when furniture or televisions are burns, are the cause of the increased cancer rates. 

Becker said one step to change the trend is by changing the culture and guidelines when it comes to safety gear. 

"To make sure that our guys are wearing their breathing apparatus throughout the entire duration of the fire," Becker said. When they get done with the fire, we immediately decontaminate them." 

Becker also said St. Louis County has a Standard of Operating Guidelines they are currently working on. 

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