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Cancer Environment

US Flight Attendants May Have Increased Cancer Risk

7 months, 3 weeks ago

4455  0
Posted on Jun 29, 2018, 9 p.m.

According to researchers from Harvard T.H Chang School of Public Health several types of cancer are more common among US flight attendants than the general public, as published in the journal Environmental Health.

Study results show that rates of gastrointestinal, breast, cervical, uterine, thyroid, and non-melanomas skin cancers are higher among flight attendants, which is surprising given low rates of smoking and overweight reported in study population, according to the researchers.


Exposure to known cancer causing factors such as cosmic ionizing radiation, sleep cycle and circadian rhythm disruption, and potential contaminants within the plane happen on a regular basis for flight crew members who are subject to the largest annual ionizing radiation doses due to cosmic radiation exposures compared with other US workers. These are known risk factors, but cabin crews haven’t been included in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration protection which help safeguard workers, some protections have been introduced but don’t involve monitoring or regulation of radiation exposure.


Over 10,000 people were involved in this study, which included 5,366 US flight attendants who answered questions regarding their health outcomes, symptoms, personal characteristics, work experience, and employment history in the aviation industry. Researchers analysed completed surveys and compared them with that of 5,000 US residents from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study, findings showed flight attendants had higher rates of every cancer assessed particularly melanoma, non-melanoma skin cancer and breast cancer among women.


There is a need for additional efforts to be made in order limit cancer risks among the aviation industry workers such as implementation of schedules which lower radiation exposure and prevent the disruption of circadian rhythms and radiation dose monitoring as much as possible.

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