Are fighting fires and developing cancer connected? Experts say yes.
For the past three weeks Alabama Fire College Training Specialist Adrean Booth has been working on a video the college is planning on debuting at the end of the June.
It’s message? To shine a light on what cancer is doing to firefighters today and how those numbers can be reduced.
“Brain cancer rates are up 32% , Booth told WVUA 23. You’re more likely to get cancer as a fire fighter than an average person. Fifty-two percent more likely to get testicular cancer. Colon cancer rates are up. Non Hodgkins lymphoma, skin cancers….firefighters are one third more likely to die than the average person, ” she said.
Fire Programs Group Supervisor Rick Gregg remembs fellow firemen he’s lost to the disease.
“To see a perfectly healthy guy that you lived with 24 hours at a time ….part of your family have this happen to them is very hard. very hard,” Gregg said sadly.
When you think about cancer causing culprits fire fighters are exposed to, smoke inhalation probably comes to mind. But experts say that’s not the only thing causing this spark in numbers.
“Things that materials are being made of in homes, they burn quicker, they burn hotter, there’s a lot of carcinogens, a lot of formaldehyde,” Booth exclaimed. “All of those things combined, get in your skin and your pores and glandular areas all these bad toxins is causing higher rates of cancer,” she told WVUA.
And there are preventative measures that can be taken to lower cancer risks; many will be mentioned in the fire college’s video.
Booth says those steps include: check ups with their doctor to let them know what they do for a living, keeping gear clean, scrubbing down before ever leaving a scene, using baby wipes to wipe down glandular areas, that swapping out hoods, taking a shower about an hour long after coming back from the scene, and excercising for about an hour to sweat out toxins.
“We can do things to slow it down,” Booth told us, “but we just need to be proactive and do those things. “