Firefighters often unaware of higher risk for job-related cancer

Overlooked or unbeknownst to firefighters, these public servants may face a higher risk for cancer. North Carolina firefighters and readers are well aware of the risk for physical harm when fighting fires. However, it has recently come to light that exposure to certain hazards from fires place these men and women at a much higher risk for multiple types of cancer.

A study performed by the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine found that firefighters are 12 percent more likely to contract cancer and have an 18 percent higher chance of dying from cancer. It is also known that firefighters are twice as likely to be diagnosed with mesothelioma, caused by exposure to asbestos in burning buildings. There are many possible reasons why a firefighter could get cancer, but the statistics relating firefighting and illness are staggering.

Some of the reasons that firefighters face a higher risk for cancer could be related to multiple facets of fighting fires. It is possible that it is the extreme heat or exposure to dangerous chemicals released in fires. It is also possible that the cumulative number of fires over the years or improper safety practices could add to the risk.

North Carolina firefighters who have been diagnosed with cancer should not suffer in silence. There is overwhelming evidence that points to the correlation between the job and health hazards, and it is possible that those who have suffered could be eligible for financial compensation. Any individual who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or other cancers should seek a professional evaluation to determine if a civil suit is an appropriate course of action.

Source:, “In the line of duty: Cancer a silent killer for firefighters“, Chris Heady, Aug. 30, 2014