Video: Study: 9/11 responders suffer increased cancer rate

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    >>> and we have news just breaking at this hour tonight about all those firefighters, those first responders who rushed to ground zero and then continued to work on the pile as they called it after the 9/11 attacks. from the very first hours of rescue efforts at the world trade center site , many feared and common sense dictated that the fumes and dust contained chemicals that could cause cancer and other diseases and now, tonight a study from the fire department of new york , and several medical schools find the frightening evidence that those who worked at the scene are indeed being diagnosed with cancer and the problem is likely to get worse. our report tonight from our chief science correspondent robert bazell .

    >> reporter: the fire department of new york studied the health of its members extensively before and after 9/11. and only the first seven year office the attack, firefighters exposed to the dust and smoke had 19% more cancers than those who were not exposed.

    >> they made a commitment to us when they ran into those buildings, we made a commitment to them, we are going to continue to study these cancers.

    >> reporter: worked on the rescue and recovery effort for another month. in 2007 he developed thyroid cancer and retired from the department soon after.

    >> when i found out what i had, i knew right away.

    >> reporter: this is the world trade center site today, in the hours and weeks after the attack, the burning pile released many chemicals known to cause cancer and other illnesses. a separate study out today of 27,000 rescue workers finds in excess of many physical and psychiatric diseases. there's no excess deaths yet, but officials expect that will happen. as for the firefighters, the department says it must concentrate on early detection and treatment, and fears the cancer cases will increase with time.

    >> we can never take 9/11 away, but we can start and continue an aggressive cancer prevention , and cancer screening program. another fallout from 9/11 for new york's bravest, that will continue for many years. robert bazell , nbc news, new york.

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