Cancer Risk Rises for Flight Attendants, Especially Among Women

Cancer Risk Rises for Flight Attendants, Especially Among Women

Cancer Risk Rises for Flight Attendants, Especially Among Women

The most striking thing is that this happens even though there are small percentages of overweight and smokers in this professional group, "said Mordukovic".

Having no childlen was a known risk factor, noted Mordukhovich.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts, surveyed 5,366 US flight crew members and found that slightly over 15 per cent of them reported having been diagnosed with cancer.

The authors used 2013-14 data from the Flight Attendant Health Study, which has been tracking the health of selected flight crew since 2007.

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Those carcinogens most notably include higher doses of cosmic radiation that flight crews are exposed to because of long hours spent working at high altitude, a situation that can be exacerbated on flights at high latitudes or over the Earth's magnetic poles. "Combine that with this disruption from the job, especially for those who fly internationally, this may be an indication that the circadian rhythm disruption is having an impact".

The findings suggest that additional efforts should be made to minimize the risk of cancer among flight attendants, including monitoring radiation dose and organising schedules to minimize radiation exposure and circadian rhythm disruption, the researchers suggested.

Flight attendants are exposed to a number of known cancer-causing risks, but few studies have rigorously quantified that risk, and researchers say they are an understudied occupational group.

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.

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Working as a flight attendant significantly increases your risk of a range of cancers compared to the general population, a major study of cabin crew has found.

This was compared with 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. Cancers of the skin, uterus, cervix, the digestive tract and thyroid gland were also all found to be more common in cabin crew.

Male caregivers also have a 50% greater risk of skin melanoma (1.2% vs. 0.69% in the general male population) and about 10% increased risk for skin cancer other than melanoma (3.2% versus 2.9%).

Unions for flight attendants at Southwest and American airlines identified crew fatigue as a top health issue that needs to be addressed, something the pending Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill could do with required minimum rest times. Dr Heutelbeck revealed she has treated around 500 patients in three and a half years. Some of her patients have been exposed to fume events, other exhibit similar symptoms from repeated exposure to cabin air.

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Other studies have found higher rates of deaths from cancer among cabin crew and higher rates of specific diseases such as chronic bronchitis and cardiac disease in flight attendants than the general population. For example, the flight staff participants tended to be older than control subjects and a larger proportion were women.

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