Hitting Cancer Below the Belt Inside the Fire House - By: Mindy Conklinthe rate of colorectal cancer has doubled in the under 50 year old population. A 2021 study predicts this trend may continue into the foreseeable future with colorectal cancer becoming the leading cancer-related death in people between 20-49 years of age by the year 2040. 
Pouring gasoline on this cancerous fire is the risk of toxic exposure for firefighters. In 2010, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) assessed nearly 30,000 fire fighters across the country to explore the possible connection between their work and the development of cancer. The study was a collaborative effort, which also included researchers at the National Cancer Institute and the University of California at Davis Department of Public Health Sciences. Their findings revealed firefighters were likely to experience more cancer, and die more frequently from those cancers, than the general U.S. population. The most prominent cancers were digestive (e.g. colorectal), respiratory, and urinary cancers. 
Smaller studies have also revealed firefighters to be at higher than average risk of developing cancer. So what can be done? Hitting Cancer Below the Belt (HCB2) believes it all starts with awareness and offering education to enhance that understanding while delivering services to increase proactive health behaviors. HCB2 has an array of educational assets to attract the attention of community members that includes podcasts, short videos, presentations, appearances with the inflatable colon, and social media messages. We direct our services towards supporting community members susceptible to or at a higher risk of a cancer diagnosis - firefighters included. The news that colorectal cancer is on the rise is one that we can do something about!
RESCUE SERVICE FACES RISE IN CANCER RATES
by: William J. Boger/President, Local 1568
Cancer is a very real and pervasive enemy to firefighters. The fires we used to fight were made of natural products like wood, leather and natural cloth fibers. Now, the fires we fight are filled with carcinogenic mixtures of plastics, synthetics and other chemicals. While we do a good job of protecting ourselves with gear, breathing apparatus and decontamination procedures, the toxins are unfortunately still absorbed into our bodies. In fact, cancer is now the leading cause of firefighter deaths and 66% of firefighter deaths between 2002 and 2019 were from cancer. According to research by the CDC/National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH), firefighters have a 9 percent higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14 percent higher risk of dying from cancer than the general population.
HENRICO PROFESSIONAL FIREFIGHTERS ASSOCIATION
LOCAL 1568 - IAFF RICHMOND, VA
hcb2.org or email@example.com for further discussion and collaboration.
1. NCI. (2020). Why Is Colorectal Cancer Rising Rapidly among Young Adults?Retrieved from https://www.cancer.gov/news-events/cancer-currents-blog/2020/colorectal-cancer-risingyounger-adults.
2. Rahib, L., Wehner, M.R., Matrisian, L.M. et al. (2021). Estimated Projection of US Cancer Incidence and Death to 2040. JAMA Network Open, 4(4). Retrieved from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2778204.
3. CDC. (2016). Findings from a Study of Cancer Among U.S. Fire Fighters. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/pgms/worknotify/pdfs/ff-cancer-factsheet-final-508.pdf.