Flight attendants exposed to greater risk of cancers

Flight attendants exposed to greater risk of cancers

US flight attendants are having a higher rate of developing various cancers than the general population, a study showed. The comparison indicated a higher risk of various types of cancers in flight attendants than the people who did not belong to that profession. "This is striking given the low rates of overweight and smoking in this occupational group".

If you've even sat in the wrong spot, you're more likely to get sick. Not having children is a known risk factor for the disease in women, but the researchers were surprised to see increased rates in those with multiple kids.

Women who had no children or had three or more children had a higher risk of breast cancer the longer they stayed on the job.

Her team used data from a survey carried out from 2013 to 2014 as part of the ongoing Flight Attendant Health Study established in 2007. Melanoma rates were just over 200% higher and non-melanoma skin cancer rates were about 300% higher.Male flight attendants, meanwhile, were about 50% more likely to suffer from melanoma and 10% more likely to have non-melanoma skin cancer.

It requires airlines to monitor radiation dose (especially for pregnant attendants), organizes schedules to reduce radiation exposure, and informs workers of current studies.

Irina Mordukhovich, corresponding author of the study, said the research is one of "the largest and most comprehensive studies of cancer among cabin crew to date".

Mordukhovich said that aside from policy, crew members can take certain precautions such as wearing sunscreen on the aircraft to protect from UV rays, maintaining healthy and consistent sleep practices on their days off, as well as eating a healthy diet and exercising. Accounting for age, the authors found a higher prevalence in flight crew of every cancer outcome examined in this study compared to the general population, including breast (3.4% of flight crew compared to 2.3% in the general population), uterine (0.15 % compared to 0.13%), cervical (1.0% compared to 0.70%), gastrointestinal (0.47% compared to 0.27%), and thyroid (0.67% compared to 0.56%) cancers.

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"The E.U. already evaluates radiation exposure among flight attendants, which our findings show may be an important step toward lowering cancer risk among this work population", said study author Eileen McNeely.

Flight crews are routinely exposed to known and probable carcinogens, including cosmic radiation from space, circadian rhythm disruption and possible chemical contaminants. Those data were then compared to surveys filled out by 2,700 other Americans with similar levels of education and income, but working in other sectors.

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

Previous research by scientists in Iceland suggested stewardesses were up to five times more likely to contract breast cancer. They also observed that women cabin crew members have an increased risk of developing breast, melanoma, and non-melanoma cancer.

Dr Heutelbeck has also been treating passengers who are frequent flyers as well.

Breast cancer was found to affect 3.4 per cent of flight attendants, compared with 2.3 per cent of other women. For example, the flight staff participants tended to be older than control subjects and a larger proportion were women.

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