Seventeen years after 9/11, the number of its disease-related deaths continue to mount and experts predict they will soon outnumber the 2,977 actual victim deaths that arose from the terrorist attack in New York City that fateful Tuesday, The Journal News reported Thursday.
Nearly 10,000 first responders and others on site at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, have been diagnosed with cancer and there have been over 2,000 deaths linked to 9/11 illnesses.
Experts forecast that by the end of the year the number of people who have died from toxic exposure from 9/11 could surpass the number of people killed during the initial attack.
Dr. Michael Crane, medical director of the World Trade Center Health Program Clinical Center of Excellence at Mount Sinai, said the data made him nervous.
He explained that cancer rates among first responders, who are roughly 55-years-old now, was 30 percent higher than the general population, The Journal News noted.
Addressing the issue, FBI agent Thomas O'Connor said it sometimes felt like “Bin Laden is still reaching out from the grave,” according to The Los Angeles Times.
As first responders rushed to assist victims in the aftermath of the attacks nearly two decades ago, the last thing on their minds were the long-term health implications of the carcinogenic fumes and dust.
FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich said “they weren't thinking of the danger, they weren't thinking about their own safety,” according to CNN.
The effects of the attack are still being felt.
Doctors with the World Trade Center Health Program have identified nearly 70 types of cancer that are linked to 9/11, Newsweek reported in 2016.
“The diseases stemming from the World Trade Center attacks include almost all lung diseases, almost all cancers—such as issues of the upper airways, gastroesophageal acid reflux disease, post-traumatic stress, anxiety, panic and adjustment disorders,” explained Dr. David Prezant, co-director for the Fire Department of the City of New York’s World Trade Center Medical Monitoring Program.
The situation may seem dire but there is still hope.
Medical studies are making discoveries that could lead to effective future treatment, The Journal News reported.
The Mount Sinai WTC Program has been working to develop testing protocols with other cancer centers in a bid to cater for people more at risk from their environmental factors.
Furthermore, research conducted among first responders could positively impact general cancer treatment.
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