Prostate Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

World Trade Center First Responders: Cause of Increased Risk of Prostate Cancer Explored

By: Dana A. Elya, MS, RD, CDN
Posted: Monday, July 29, 2019

A new study published in Molecular Cancer Research identified what may explain the increased risk of prostate cancer among first responders at the World Trade Center (WTC) on September 11, 2001. William K. Oh, MD, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, and colleagues found that the increased risk for prostate cancer may result from inflammation activated in the prostate after exposure to the carcinogens and tumor-promoting agents in the dust at the WTC site.

“World Trade Center responders show an overall increase in cancer incidence, and specifically of certain cancer types such as prostate cancer. Our findings represent the first link between exposure to World Trade Center dust and prostate cancer,” shared coauthor Emanuela Taioli, MD, PhD, also of the Icahn School of Medicine, in a Mount Sinai press release.

The study looked at data from archived tumors of 30 patients; 15 were exposed to dust at the WTC site and the other 15 were unexposed. They also performed RNA sequencing in rat prostate samples taken after 1 day of exposure to the WTC dust.

The investigators identified a distinct gene expression in the prostate cancer of those exposed to WTC dust along with chronic inflammation in both the human cancer tissue samples as well as the rat tissue samples. The inflammation, which started right after initial respiratory exposure to the WTC dust, is what researchers believe may have contributed to the progression of prostate cancer.

According to the investigators, “A larger study targeting the genes and cell types that were overexpressed in this hypothesis-generating work should be conducted to address whether the WTC prostate cases have a distinct signature of aggressiveness in comparison with non-WTC cases.”

Disclosure: The study authors’ disclosure information may be found at

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