Protecting those who protected us

New data indicates nearly 300 New York City police officers who responded to the 9/11 attacks have been diagnosed with cancer, the New York Post reported.  The number of officers applying for cancer-related disability pensions has tripled since the attacks.

The average age of 297 cancer-afflicted officers was 44 years-old at the time of diagnosis, according to the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA).

I have to side with the Bloomberg administration, the NYPD, and President Obama in their support of the The James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act, which was signed into law in early 2011 and established the World Trade Center Health Program. The program is meant to ensure those affected by the terrorist attacks receive proper monitoring and treatment services for 9/11-related health problems through at least 2015.

In addition, while I know the New York City Health Department is conducting its own study of the cancers that have affected NYPD officers – which include lung cancer and other rare types of cancers, such as bile duct and tongue cancer – I also think that it is important to involve academic institutions in the research process.

New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine was, and continues to be, very active in investigating the epidemiological outcomes of 9/11 terrorist attacks, yet the NYPD refuses to hand over its data on cancers affecting officers.

I do not understand why with so many lives at stake, collaboration with such prestigious institutions is not possible.

When you consider the amount of analysis that needs to be conducted to identify risk factors in cancer clusters, I think it’s important to foster collaboration among doctors and scientists.

The lessons of 9/11 are many – not only pertaining to government and intelligence modifications, but also to the importance of learning to protecting those who protect us.