Study: Indiana Firefighters At Much Higher Risk Of Cancer Death

An IUPUI study compares firefighter deaths in Indiana between 1985 and 2013.

File photo.

(Indianapolis, Ind.) - Indiana firefighters are significantly more likely to die of cancer than non-firefighters.

That’s the finding of a study from the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI.

Of 2,818 Hoosier firefighters who died between 1985 and 2013, nearly a third of them died from malignant cancers, according to the research findings published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. That’s a 20 percent increase compared to non-firefighters.

"Firefighters are exposed to toxic agents, increasing their risk for cancer and cardiovascular disease," said doctor candidate and research scientist Carolyn Muegge. "We examined the odds of cancer and cardiovascular mortality of firefighters relative to a matched group of non‐firefighters from the general population."

Heart disease was the second leading cause of firefighters' deaths, accounting for 824, or 29.2 percent – no different from deaths of non-firefighters.

Cancer surpassed cardiovascular disease as the leading cause of Indiana firefighter deaths in 1995.

The study suggests the cancer and heart disease findings underscore the need for programs and policies for fighters aimed at reducing the diseases.

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