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Federal health officials have decided in an initial review not to add cancer to the list of health conditions related to the 2001 World Trade Center attack and its cleanup, meaning that those stricken with it cannot get health benefits under the so-called Zadroga bill.
The determination by Dr. John Howard at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health comes in its first review of cancer as a potential trade center-related health effect. Another review is planned for early next year.
For the report released Tuesday, a panel reviewed scientific and medical findings on ground zero health, and decided "insufficient evidence exists at this time" to add cancer to the list of trade center-related conditions.
Howard is the administrator of the World Trade Center Health Program.
The report notes that an absence of published findings documenting a direct causal link between the trade center and cancer does not mean there is no link. It simply means there isn't enough documentation to meet the requirements needed to add cancer to the list at this time, the report said.
9/11 health advocate John Feal said in a statement that, while the finding is unfortunate, he believes further reviews "will establish such a link."
"As we have seen countless of our brethren fall to a form of this horrible disease time and again following 9/11, we know in our hearts, having breathed in those noxious fumes and having spent hour after hour in that undeniably toxic air, that many forms of cancer are due to our exposure at the site," he said.
The Zadroga bill provides free health care and compensation to 9/11 rescue and recovery workers who became sick after working at the trade center.
Authors of the bill -- New York Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler and Peter King -- said Tuesday that they are discouraged about the first cancer finding by NIOSH.
"This is disappointing news for 9/11 responders and rescuers who tragically have been diagnosed with cancer since the attacks and are suffering day to day and awaiting help," they said in a statement. "The collapse of the trade center towers released a cloud of poisons, including carcinogens, throughout Lower Manhattan and we fully expect that cancers will be covered under our legislation."