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05 Jan 2012 04:35 PM

WTC Attack Responders - PTSD Linked To Respiratory Disease

Results of an investigation analyzing the association between the two signature health problems - post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and respiratory illness - among recovery workers who responded first at the World Trade Center (WTC), have been revealed after more than a decade following the terrorist attacks on the WTC. The study was led by Benjamin J. Luft, M.D., the Edmund D. Pellegrino Professor of Medicine, and Medical Director of Stony Brook's World Trade Center Health Program, and Evelyn Bromet, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor, Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, and Preventive Medicine, Stony Brook University School of Medicine, and published in the "FirstView" section online in Psychological Medicine.

Recovery workers who responded first to the WTC site were exposed to both extreme mental trauma and to an extraordinary environmental disaster. The attacks on the WTC have led to two persistent health problems among the rescue workers - PTSD and respiratory ailments - due to the extreme emotional trauma of witnessing such enormous destruction and deaths, as well as the unprecedented physical hazards, such as exposure to the explosion of jet fuel and the smoldering debris fire.

Dr. Luft explains:

"This study illustrates the integral relationship between mental health and physical diseases that WTC responders suffer. The analysis not only shows that relationship but also connects PTSD as a possible co-factor in responders' diseases, which reinforces our view at Stony Brook's WTC Health Program that the illnesses suffered by 9/11 responders are a compilation of problems that often present as an entire syndrome of diseases and conditions."

In "Exposure, Probable PTSD and Lower Respiratory Illness Among World Trade Center Rescue, Recovery and Clean-Up Workers," Dr. Luft and his team, as well as additional WTC clinics revealed data from 12,333 non-traditional responders, including transportation and maintenance workers, and 8,508 traditional responders, mainly police officers....
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