Medical

Exposure to radiation, carcinogens puts flight attendants at high risk of cancer

Exposure to radiation, carcinogens puts flight attendants at high risk of cancer

For the first time, researchers also showed cabin crew members have higher rates of non-melanoma skin cancer.

Especially with nonmelanoma skin cancer, working more time in the air correlated with higher incidence rates. 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.

The researchers found that in female flight attendants, the rates of breast cancer were about 50 percent higher than in women from the general population.

"This is striking given the low rates of overweight and smoking in this occupational group", she said in a statement.

New American research confirms that airplane cabin crew members are at increased risk, in relation to the general population, to develop certain types of cancer, especially breast and skin.The increased likelihood of the disease appears to be related to the fact that flight attendants and carers are more exposed to the ionizing cosmic and ultraviolet radiation that penetrate the plane and can damage the DNA.

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.

Despite these known risks, flight attendants have historically been excluded from Occupational Safety and Health Administration protections typically granted to USA workers.




"Having fewer children and having children later in life are known risk factors for breast cancer", Pinkerton, who wasn't involved in the current study, said by email.

The cabin crew of a flight are routinely exposed to known and suspected cosmic ionizing radiation, a kind of carcinogen, which is found at an increased level at higher altitudes. The new findings are based on a 2014-15 survey in which 5,366 US flight attendants were asked about health outcomes and symptoms, work experience, personal characteristics, and employment history.

"In the European Union, air crew's radiation exposures are monitored and their schedules are created to minimize their dose, especially while pregnant".

Researchers also couldn't say whether tumors developed before or after participants started working as flight attendants.

"This may be due to combined sources of circadian rhythm disruption - sleep deprivation and irregular schedules - both at home and at work".

The authors used self-reported data from 5,366 U.S. 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. These flight attendants then answered the questions related to their flight routines and possible cancer diagnoses.

PPG Aerospace recently unveiled a new transparency film that can be applied to cockpit and cabin windows to prevent harmful UVA, UVB, and HEVBLUE rays from entering the aircraft.


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