Cancer scientists question gov's decision to link 50 kinds of cancers to 9/11 health fund
(AP) JUNE 20, 2012 - Call it compassionate, even political. But ... scientific? Several experts say there's no hard evidence to support the federal government's declaration this month that 50 kinds of cancer could be caused by exposure to World Trade Center dust.
The decision could help hundreds of people get payouts from a multibillion-dollar World Trade Center health fund to repay those ailing after they breathed in toxic dust created by the collapsing twin towers on Sept. 11, 2001.
But scientists say there is little research to prove that exposure to the toxic dust plume caused even one kind of cancer. And many acknowledge the payouts to cancer patients could take money away from those suffering from illnesses more definitively linked to Sept. 11, like asthma and laryngitis.
"To imagine that there is strong evidence about any cancer resulting from 9/11 is naive in the extreme," said Donald Berry, a biostatistics professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
Yet this month, Dr. John Howard, who heads the federal agency that researches workplace illnesses, added scores of common and rare cancers to a list that had previously included just 12 ailments caused by dust exposure.
Lung, skin, breast and thyroid cancer were among those added; of the most common types of cancer, only prostate cancer was excluded.
"We recognize how personal the issue of cancer and all of the health conditions related to the World Trade Center tragedy are to 9/11 responders, survivors and their loved ones," Howard said in a June 8 statement...