Flight attendants exposed to greater risk of cancers
Flight attendants exposed to greater risk of cancers
Female flight Attendants used to illustrate the story
28 June, 2018, 20:42
Each five-year increase spent working as a flight attendant increased risk of non-melanoma skin cancer among women and higher risk of breast cancer in women who had never had children or those who had had three or more.
Researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, US found that out of the 5,366 flight attendants who participated in this study, slightly over 15% reported ever having been diagnosed with cancer.
Having three or more children-or none at all-was also a risk factor for breast cancer in female flight attendants.
The researchers studied the data from a survey conducted from 2013 to 2014 as part of the Flight Attendant Health Study, which was first launched in 2007.
Flight attendants had higher rates of all cancers investigated. 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.
The authors recommend that further efforts be made in the USA to limit cancer risk among this work population such as radiation dose monitoring and the implementation of schedules that will lower exposure to radiation and prevent the disruption of circadian rhythms.
Corresponding author Dr Irina Mordukhovichsaid: "Our study is among the largest and most comprehensive studies of cancer among cabin crew to date and we profiled a wide range of cancers". In addition, melanoma rates were more than two times higher and nonmelanoma skin cancer rates were about four times higher in female flight attendants compared with women from the general population.
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The lead author of that study, Dr. Lynne Pinkerton of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Cincinnati, Ohio, didn't rule out the possibility that altitude-related radiation exposure or disrupted sleep cycles might be connected to cancer.
As the findings shows that prevalence of breast, melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers was high among flight attendants compared to the general population, the researchers suggest that measures such as monitoring the radiation doses and organising a proper work routine should be taken to minimise cancer causing risk among the cabin crew. "Future longitudinal studies should evaluate associations between specific exposures and cancers among cabin crew", they wrote. The current study used information from the 2014 to 2015 survey and compared it to health outcomes from 2,729 control subjects who were matched for socioeconomic status.
One of the most unusual risks is cosmic ionizing radiation (radiation from outer space that penetrates airplanes). They also observed that women cabin crew members have an increased risk of developing breast, melanoma, and non-melanoma cancer.
The average amount of exposure to radiation has increased over time as planes fly higher and for longer.
The study was only based on the health impact the cabin crew had due to their profession and not on the airline passengers.
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Breast cancer was found to affect 3.4 per cent of flight attendants, compared with 2.3 per cent of other women.
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