NEW YORK — Cancers among New York Police Department officers involved in various recovery operations after the Sept. 11 terrorist strikes have increased fivefold since the 2001 attacks, officials disclosed Monday.
A study by the department medical staff in conjunction with Weill-Cornell Medical College of Cornell University also found that a certain type of thyroid cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma have increased 10 times and 3 1/2 times respectively since Sept. 11, 2001.
“This is an advisory that something has raised its head and police officers need to be aware of it,” said Dr. Eli Kleinman, the NYPD’s chief surgeon.
Kleinman and NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly announced a summary of the findings in a briefing with reporters Monday after Kelly had alluded to them during a regularly scheduled promotion ceremony at police headquarters.
While Kleinman said he was constrained by research restrictions from spelling out details of the survey, which covered a population of retirees and regular officers in the period from 1995 to 2011, both he and Kelly said they wanted to get the word out now to police officers who were part of the recovery operations.
“The purpose of this announcement is to, No.1, get people to pay attention to their health and if they are in that universe … get yourself checked out,” said Kelly, who noted that there have been 57 officers who have died from what are believed to be illnesses linked to work at Ground Zero.
Kleiman stressed that he wasn’t ringing any alarm bells and that the incidences of cancers are relatively low, increasing for the one type of thyroid cancer from five cases to about 50 over the 16-year study period. A total of about 595 cancers of all types were uncovered in the study, he said. The study population dealt with about 34,000 officers, plus retirees.
“It is important for them to know that among the entities that we are concerned about, the thyroid and non-Hodgkins lymphoma, are the kinds of things that only show late in terms of symptoms,” said Kleiman.
John Feal, who started the nonprofit Fealgood Foundation to help Sept. 11 first responders and recovery workers get assistance, said the latest NYPD findings didn’t come as a surprise.
“Whether you are a cop, firefighter, construction worker or volunteer, those numbers have spiked for everybody,” said Feal.
There are now 51 types of cancer, including thyroid and non-Hodgkin lymphoma on the list of World Trade Center-related cancers eligible for compensation, said Feal. He stressed that anyone eligible to apply for compensation under the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund must do so by Thursday.