Scientists warn of fire fighters' cancer risk

In collaboration with the Press Association

Fire fighters seem to be at increased risk of several cancers due to the toxic fumes they are exposed to during their work, according to a review of the evidence.

The review analysed information on 110,000 fire fighters from 32 previous studies.

The results showed a 100 per cent increase of testicular cancers and a 28 per cent increase of prostate cancers among fire fighters compared to others.

The rates of multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkins lymphoma were also 50 per cent higher among firemen.

The research team said that regular exposure to benzene, chloroform, formaldehyde, styrene and soot were to blame for the increased cancer risk in the profession.

"Scientists estimate that occupational exposure to harmful chemicals is responsible for about two per cent of cancer deaths in the UK," said Henry Scowcroft of Cancer Research UK.

"This research highlights the need to constantly monitor and assess people's workplace exposure to cancer-causing chemicals, so that fire fighters and other at-risk groups are properly protected whilst carrying out their jobs.

"It is important to remember that this affects only a small number of people in very specific jobs."

The study was conducted by the University of Cincinnati and is published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.