A new study by the University of the Fraser Valley reveals firefighters are 86 per cent more likely to die from cancer than any other fatal illness or injury.

The illness scored above cardiovascular disease, traumatic injury and respiratory system disease as a leading cause of death.

An estimated rate of about 50 firefighters out 100,000 die of cancer each year, the study found.

The review of 10 years of firefighter health and injury data suggests that firefighters' exposure to harmful carcinogens while battling blazes is a likely cause.

Firefighters over the age of 65 were most likely to die from cancer, according to the research which also found that firefighters between the ages of 55 to 59 were most likely to submit a time-loss claim for cancer than any other age bracket.

Last year the B.C government added three more cancers to the list of Firefighter's Occupational Disease Regulation, which makes firefighters eligible to receive workers compensation after a period of time without having to prove that the cancer is from firefighting. The list now stands at 10 and includes prostate, brain, and lung cancer.

The study also reveals that traumatic injuries and mental health still plague the profession. Traumatic injuries account for 90 per cent of time-loss claims for firefighters and mental health ranks as the third leading cause for firefighters taking time off the job.

Surrey Fire Chief and UFV adjunct professor Len Garis co-authored the study and stresses the importance of watching health trends so that timely intervention can be provided to firefighters.

Researchers used claims data obtained through Work Safe B.C and the Association of Workers Compensation Boards of Canada to conduct their research.