There is no substantial scientific evidence that firefighters suffer higher cancer rates than the general population, according to a report from the Washington-based National League of Cities (NLC). The NLC study, "Assessing State Firefighter Cancer Presumption Laws And Current Firefighter Cancer Research," calls into question the "presumption laws" passed in 24 states that allow firefighters with cancer to collect workers' compensation without proving that they contracted the disease as a result of their job.

Of the thousands of cancer studies conducted between 1995 and 2008, only 17 looked at firefighting as a risk factor in contracting cancer, and no causal relationship has been found, according to the NLC study. Still, in states with presumption laws, cancer is treated as a work-related illness, a policy that should be reevaluated, NLC Executive Director Donald Borut said in a statement. "While we depend on firefighters for the critical role they play in the safety of our cities and towns, we must evaluate this issue objectively and scientifically," Borut said. "This study demonstrates the need for more high-level research into cancer and firefighters. States should not pass laws requiring cities to take on difficult financial burdens with no clear scientific connection between illness and occupation."

Download the "Assessing State Firefighter Cancer Presumption Laws And Current Firefighter Cancer Research" study from NLC's Web site.