Monash Fiskville cancer study released

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study of CFA members who worked and trained at the Fiskville training facility between 1971 and 1999 has found while there is a higher incidence of some cancers compared with the wider Victorian community, the overall incidence of cancer was not higher for the study group as a whole.

Commissioned by CFA in November 2012, Monash University researchers examined cancer rates among 600 people who worked and trained on the hot fire training ground who were categorised in low, medium and high risk of exposure groups identified in the Joy Report.

The exposure was to a variety of materials, including flammable chemicals, combustion products, foams and recycled firewater.

Lead researcher, Associate Professor Deborah Glass, from Monash University’s Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, said the study found a higher incidence of melanoma and cancer of the testis in the high risk of exposure group and brain cancer in the medium risk of exposure group.

“When compared to the Victorian public we saw a higher incidence of some specific cancers; however, the study concluded that the overall incidence of cancer was not higher for the study group as a whole, although this was significantly elevated in the high risk group,” Professor Glass said.

She said the study also found the overall mortality rate of the study group was low compared to that of the general Australian population. The researchers concluded this may be due to higher fitness needed to become a firefighter and a healthier lifestyle led by this group of workers.