Firefighter Cancer Rates: The Facts from NIOSH ResearchPosted on by
In 2010, researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), launched a multi-year study to examine whether firefighters have a higher risk of cancer and other causes of death due to job exposures. The study was a joint effort led by researchers at NIOSH in collaboration with researchers at the National Cancer Institute and the University of California at Davis Department of Public Health Sciences, and supported by the U.S Fire Administration. This study was completed in late 2015.
The study included nearly 30,000 career firefighters from Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Francisco who were employed at any time between 1950 and 2009. NIOSH researchers found that, when compared to the number of cancers expected using U.S. population rates, the firefighters in this study had a modest increase in cancer diagnoses (9% increase) and cancer-related deaths (14% increase). More information about the study can be found at the links below.
Understanding the increased risks faced by firefighters can help target prevention efforts. However, recent media reports have confused the issue by over-stating the cancer risk for firefighters. We hope that providing the data in this blog and the references below will help prevent further misrepresentation of our data.
Robert D. Daniels, PhD, CHP
Dr. Daniels is a Lead Epidemiologist in the NIOSH Education and Information Division.