A startling number of healthy, young New York City cops who responded to the 9/11 terror attacks have since been diagnosed with cancer, according to data obtained by the New York Post.
The statistics, which show nearly a tripling in the number of cops applying for cancer-related disability pensions post-9/11, are the first of their kind to become public and confirm the fears of at least 12,000 police officers who toiled amid the rubble at the toxic World Trade Center site.
There are 297 cops who were diagnosed with cancer after working at Ground Zero -- and the average age was a shocking 44 at the time of diagnosis, according to the data from the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association (PBA).
The cancers range from lung cancer -- which is the most prevalent, with 19 cases -- to rarer cancers that affect the bile duct, tongue and nasal passages, according to the data obtained from a random sampling of retired cops.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, 56 cops have died from cancer, the PBA said, adding that an average of 16 cops apply annually for cancer-related disabilities since the terror attacks, compared with about six a year before 9/11.
The New York Police Department would not give its data to the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, which treats first responders and repeatedly requested the data for its own study on whether working at Ground Zero contributed to cancer.
"It is our sincere opinion that the City of New York has done nothing to facilitate any cancer study and has been actively working to prevent a comprehensive examination of the issue," PBA research director Frank Tramontano said.
The fight reached a fever pitch, with city council members and union officials accusing the administration of withholding vital data to protect the city from liability.
"It's time to stop the obstruction and provide the data the police department has already collected so that [the federal government] doesn't have to operate in the dark," PBA President Pat Lynch said.
The city's health department is doing its own study, which will be completed by March, according to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's spokeswoman, Samantha Levine.