Barrett’s Esophagus and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease Rates in World Trade Center Firefighters
In Scientific Reports, researchers examined the rates of certain illnesses in firefighters who responded to the site of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. In particular, the researchers wanted to know how the firefighters were impacted by Barrett’s Esophagus and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). With GERD, stomach acid constantly flows back into the esophagus. Over time, the stomach acid can damage the esophagus. Eventually, GERD can lead to Barrett’s Esophagus. With Barrett’s Esophagus, the tissue of the esophagus changes and becomes more like the tissue that lines the intestines. Individuals with Barrett’s Esophagus are at a much higher risk of developing esophageal cancer.
Four years after the attacks, nearly half (44 percent) of World Trade Center recovery and rescue workers had been diagnosed with GERD symptoms. These numbers were more than 8 times pre-9/11 rates. In the general population, about 20 percent of Americans suffer from GERD symptoms. The current incidence of GERD is roughly 5 per 1000 person-years. Additionally, GERD comprises around 5 percent of all outpatient medical facility visits. Therefore, GERD impacts the quality of life, as well as medical costs, of the overall population. World Trade Center firefighters have also suffered from obstructive airway disease at higher rates.
The study showed that World Trade Center firefighters who had obstructive airway disease were three times more likely to develop GERD. In firefighters who were exposed to the toxic chemicals at the World Trade Center, those with asthma suffered GERD at higher rates.
The researchers also wanted to determine whether there were predictive biomarkers of GERD and Barrett’s Esophagus. These biomarkers would help detect types of cancer and other illnesses and help monitor treatment for these conditions.
To conduct the research, the study’s subjects went to their yearly physical exams until January 18, 2015.
Serum biomarkers were identified that were linked to the development of both Barrett’s Esophagus and GERD. These biomarkers were identified in firefighters who were at the World Trade Center and had normal lung function prior to the attacks. These biomarkers revealed that inflammation is a major factor in developing GERD, as well as pre-malignant Barrett’s Esophagus. Both conditions are risk factors for subsequently developing esophageal adenocarcinoma, particularly those who have suffered from the conditions for an extended period of time or have severe cases of these conditions.
For those who experienced symptoms of their GERD weekly, the risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma increased by five times. Daily suffering increased the odds by seven times. Those who have been diagnosed with Barrett’s Esophagus are at a 30-fold increased risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma, when compared to the general population. Esophageal cancer is deadly; therefore, the more that can be done to prevent it, the better survival rates may be.
What rights do survivors of the September 11 attacks have today?
Thousands of individuals were injured or killed on September 11, 2001. Most of these victims suffered acute injuries, such as blunt force trauma, that ultimately caused their deaths. However, years after the attacks, many victims began receiving troubling diagnoses of various cancers and other chronic illnesses. Ultimately, medical professionals and others determined that the toxic chemicals that were present at the site of the attacks led to these diagnoses. Long-term exposure to these chemicals triggered the development of serious, often fatal, conditions.
Some of these conditions include:
- Hodgkin’s disease
- Childhood cancers
- Breast cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Colon cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Liver cancer
- Rectal cancer
- Stomach cancer
- Eye and orbit cancers
- Head and neck cancers
- Lung cancer
- Urinary cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Rare cancers
- Thyroid cancers
- Respiratory conditions
Dozens of Other Conditions Have Been Linked to the September 11 Attacks
The government created funds to assist those who had been injured in the attacks. These funds also compensate surviving family members of those who died during and after the attacks. In 2015, President Barack Obama signed a bill that reauthorized both the James Zadroga Health and Compensation Act of 2010, as well as the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund. Under these funds, those who have been diagnosed with serious illnesses—like the ones mentioned above—are eligible for benefits. These claimants must show that they worked or volunteered at the attack sites or that they were in the area surrounding Ground Zero following the attacks. For example, many high school students who attended school in Manhattan after the attacks have since been diagnosed with serious illnesses. These individuals may be eligible for compensation.
It is wise to seek the assistance of an attorney as soon as possible if you believe that your health condition may be linked to the September 11 attacks. Although many claimants proceed on their own with filing paperwork with these funds, obtaining the proper documentation, submitting it correctly, and ensuring that the best evidence available is presented can be a stressful process. With the assistance of an attorney, claimants are able to focus on their health instead of a complicated legal claim.
However, it is important to act as quickly as possible. The deadline to submit a claim is December 18, 2020. Whereas this may seem like plenty of time—after all, it is two years away—many claimants are surprised at how long it can take to obtain medical records, employment records, and other documentation that is needed to support a claim for damages. If all of the documentation is not compiled in a timely manner and submitted by the deadline, the claimant may be wholly responsible for his financial losses.
Damages Available in a 9/11 Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease Claim
Each 9/11 injury claim is unique and varies significantly in terms of damages amounts. With the assistance of an attorney experienced in these claims, all available avenues of recovery will be pursued.
How Long Does it Take to Receive Compensation?
In general, claims are handled on a first-come, first-served basis, although exceptions are made. This is why it is so important to get your claim filed as soon as possible. The funds process claims as quickly as they can, but in some cases, it may still take a few months or longer to receive your money. Your attorney will ensure that your claim is processed as quickly as possible.
At Parker Waichman LLP, We Have Represented Many 9/11 Victims
At Parker Waichman LLP, we understand the various steps of the 9/11 injury claims process and have helped numerous clients obtain compensation. To discuss your case, call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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Further Zadroga Act resources: