28/07/2014 07:07 BST | Updated 28/07/2014 12:59 BST

Over 2,500 Ground Zero Workers Have Cancer - It's A Much Higher Figure Than The Normal Population

The heroes of 9/11 - those that rushed in to help on the day the Twin Towers were demolished - are paying a high price for their selfless work.

According to the New York Post, "more than 2,500 Ground Zero rescuers and responders have come down with cancer, and a growing number are seeking compensation for their illnesses.

"In its latest tally, the World Trade Center Health Program at Mount Sinai Hospital counts 1,655 responders with cancer among the 37,000 cops, hard hats, sanitation workers, other city employees and volunteers it monitors."


Terminally-Ill Boy Gets More Mail On Birthday Than Entire Town

How Leaving The Light On At Night Could Affect Breast Cancer Treatment

Epidemiologists said studies show that 9/11 workers have developed some cancers at a significantly higher rate than the normal population — including prostate, thyroid, leukemia and multiple myeloma.

Why is this the case, however?

Ground Zero was a mixture of debris that rescuers breathed in, at a time when the priority was helping people and getting them out of the situation.

As The Huffington Post US reported in 2011: "Researchers have long known that the cloud of dust and debris included a myriad of recognized carcinogens, including dioxins and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

"But to establish a link between such exposures and cancer requires actually observing more documented cases of cancer among responders than would have been expected had they not breathed in the toxins."

One such hero, a retired FDNY captain, 63, was chose not to be named, worked non-stop for a week at Ground Zero and developed inoperable pancreatic cancer and lung disease.

“I knew that day that a lot of us would get sick,” he said to The Post.