Why do firefighters have an increased risk of Multiple Myeloma?

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By: Dr. Thomas Incledon

So, why is it that these public service professionals have a greater chance of developing this cancer?

Public service professionals play very important roles when it comes to the health and wellbeing of the community at large. Their jobs are oftentimes very physically demanding, and they are called on to complete duties and tasks that the average person usually cannot.  Unfortunately, many of the people that work in these jobs are put in situations where their health may be compromised, and recent studies have shown that responders at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 have greater incidences of developing multiple myeloma.

Environmental carcinogens
The attack on the World Trade Center forever changed the United States as a whole. It  was not only a devastating loss for families that lost loved ones that day, but now almost two decades later, the loss is palpable. Thousands of people not only lost their lives, but countless others showed up to help with the clean up for weeks and months after the tragic event occurred. In fact, according to a new study from JAMA Oncology, the people that responded to serve at the World Trade Center site have now been shown to have higher incidences of developing multiple myeloma.

Who participated in the study?

The study looked at firefighters that were exposed to environmental carcinogens at the World Trade Center. Occurrence of monoclonal gammopathy of uncertain significance (MGUS) was 1.8 times greater in firefighters and light-chain MGUS happened more than three times as often in the firefighters than a control group of men that had no environmental exposures at the World Trade Center. There were another 16 firefighters that were exposed to the same conditions and were diagnosed with multiple myeloma by July 2017. Of these, there were 14 that had serum or urine for monoclonal protein/light-chain assessment. Seven of the 14 firefighters had light-chain myeloma.

Here is another eye-opener factor found by the study:

The myeloma diagnosis occurred at a median age of 57, which is significantly younger than the average age at diagnosis for the general population myeloma patients. (1)

Unfortunately, first responders are often exposed to environmental carcinogens on a regular basis, without even knowing about it. Yet, it’s not just first responders that are being exposed – it can happen to all people, including children. Cancer is caused by changes that happen in genes that can alter cell functionality inside of the body. Some of the changes will happen naturally as cells divide and DNA is replicated. Increased environmental carcinogen exposure could increase your risk for developing cancer.

Here are some helpful tips on how to reduce your exposure as much as possible.

Mitigating the Risk for Multiple Myeloma Cancer

Am I at Risk?

If you are at any of these professions or present any of the following below, you are at risk for this type of cancer:

  • Farming
  • Occupation as a firefighter
  • Occupation as a hairdresser
  • Exposures to chemicals or pesticides
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Patterns of alcohol intake
  • Pernicious anemia
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Gene promoter methylation, and
  • Polymorphisms.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26294217

The 5 things below are recommended for those who are serious about mitigating the risk of multiple myeloma.

  • Avoid smoking
    Tobacco has several carcinogens and regular smokers have a higher incidence of developing cancer. Breathing tobacco smoke, either by smoking it directly, or through second hand exposure, is not good for your body.
  • Avoid radiation
    X-rays and radiation exposure should be done very sparingly. Medical professionals advise against any unnecessary diagnostic radiation, especially in children. Ask your doctor about MRI, ultrasound, or other technology that could serve as a radiation alternative.
  • Test for radon
    Radon is an invisible gas that can enter homes from the ground and increase the risk of developing lung cancer. Radon tests are inexpensive, and it can be fixed if your home tests positive for it.
  • Reduce your intake of pesticides
    Unfortunately many food items are full of pesticides, which can negatively impact health. To combat this, buy local foods that are in season from farmers that use little to no pesticides. In addition, make sure your diet is rich in vitamins, calcium and fiber.
  • Limit hormone use
    Long term use of hormone-containing medication have been shown to affect cancer risk. Chemical use such as hormone replacement therapy can also increase cancer risk. Talk to your doctor about other alternatives to these medications. For example, if you’re looking for contraception assistance, consider using condoms or hormone-free IUDs that do not rely on chemicals.

If you or someone you love is experiencing cancer symptoms or have recently been diagnosed with multiple myeloma or another form of cancer, we encourage you to talk to our team of doctors.  Patients of all kinds have benefited from our experienced physicians and our personalized treatment approaches. Contact us today to schedule a free 30-minute consultation.


9/11 Firefighters at Risk for Multiple Myeloma. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29764808

Sergentanis, T. N., Zagouri, F., Tsilimidos, G., Tsagianni, A., Tseliou, M., Dimopoulos, M. A., & Psaltopoulou, T. (2015, October). Risk Factors for Multiple Myeloma: A Systematic Review of Meta-Analyses. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26294217

About the Author

Dr. Thomas is the founder and CEO of Causenta Wellness, and the Causenta Cancer Treatment Center in Arizona. From working with NFL, MLB, MMA, World Class athletes and even the White House, his reputation of personalized medicine and cutting-edge technologies has put him on the map, caring for some of the most powerful people in the world, making him one of the most sought-after healthcare professionals of all time.

About Causenta

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