Airline Crew Appear To Get Cancer More Than The Normal Population

Taking age into account the study found a higher prevalence of cancer in flight crew for every type of cancer examined

"For example, they may have more UV [sun] exposure due to their opportunity to travel", said Boffetta, who was not involved in the study. Even when flight attendants reported having stereotypically good health, diet, and exercise regimens, the likelihood that they would be stricken with certain cancers was still higher than the other survey respondents.

"Consistent with previous studies, we report a higher lifetime prevalence of breast, melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers among flight crew relative to the general population". They are, for example, less likely to smoke or be overweight, and have lower rates of heart disease.

Other studies have linked shift work and disrupted circadian clocks to higher risk of breast and prostate cancers, possibly due to a reduced ability of DNA to fix itself and the way circadian rhythm processes may be connected to immune function.

US flight attendants are having a higher rate of developing various cancers than the general population, a study showed.

Sun exposure, a leading risk factor for skin cancers, might also be higher for flight attendants because they might spend time in the sun on layovers, noted Dr. Alessandra Buja, of the University of Padova in Italy, in an email.

Researchers hope that the study's conclusions can be used to "minimize the adverse exposures and cancers common among cabin crew". The study also revealed for the first time a higher rate of non-melanoma skin cancers, such as basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, among flight attendants.

Medical scientists have known about the potential health risks of this career field for some time, yet the results from the small handful of studies focused on the issue have been frustratingly contradictory, especially when it comes to cancer. Eighty percent of the flight attendants in the study were women, as would be expected, the authors said, in a "feminized" occupation.

Dr Mordukhovich said: "Nulliparity is a known risk factor for breast cancer but we were surprised to replicate a recent finding that exposure to work as a flight attendant was related to breast cancer exclusively among women with three or more children".

The authors used self-reported data from 5,366 United States flight attendants and compared it with data from a matching group of 2,729 men and women with similar economic status who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination survey collected during the same years. Participants had an average age of 51 and had been in the profession for just over 20 years.

Air cabin crews receive the highest yearly dose of ionizing radiation on the job of all USA workers, she added.

This was compared to data from 23,729 men and women with similar economic status who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination survey during the same years.

But there are no limitations or regulations in the USA on how much exposure is safe for flight attendants. The study did not examine the health impact of frequent flying among airline passengers.

British experts have estimated airline crews receive a higher dose of radiation over a year than workers in the nuclear industry.

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