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Twin towers dust tied to some cancers, not others

Medical registry data shows 9/11 rescue and recovery workers have higher rates of three types of malignancies

Rescue and recovery workers exposed to airborne debris from the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York are, overall, no more likely to develop cancer than unexposed people are, a new analysis of medical data shows. But a closer look at the records finds that three malignancies stand as exceptions: cancers of the thyroid and prostate and a blood cancer called multiple myeloma.

Meanwhile, bystanders and other people exposed to the dust have so far experienced no increased risk for any of 23 cancers, researchers report in the Dec. 19 Journal of the American Medical Association. The study was based on data from a registry that includes 55,000 New York residents exposed to the dust from the twin towers’ fall.

Why three cancers showed up in workers and the other 20 didn’t is unclear, says study coauthor Steven Stellman, an epidemiologist at the New York City Department of Health and Columbia University.

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