Flight attendants have a higher rate of every cancer outcome compared to the general population, a large and comprehensive study of cabin crew members by the Harvard School of Public Health (Boston) and published in the journal Environmental Health has found.
The researchers combined their own research on more than 5,300 mainly female cabin crew members working on domestic and international flights in the US with the results of a national health study of 5,000 people from the US national public health institute CDC.
The results of the study show that 15 percent of the cabin crew members will receive a cancer diagnosis. Compared with an average American from the same age group, many flight attendants have a higher risk of breast tumors (3.4 percent instead of 2.3 percent), uterine cancer (0.15 instead of 0.13 percent), cervical cancer (1.0 instead of 0.7 percent), gastrointestinal cancer (0.47 instead of 0.27 percent) and thyroid cancer (0.67 instead of 0.56 percent).
They also discovered an increased risk of skin cancer: more than twice the risk (2.2 percent instead of 0.98 percent) to develop melanomas, while flight attendants have four times more chance (7.4 percent instead of 1.8 percent) of other forms of skin cancer (non-melanoma skin cancer). They also found that risk of non-melanoma skin cancers rose with every five years spent in the job. There is also a higher risk for male flight attendants to develop skin cancer, although this is lower than female flight attendants (3.2 percent instead of 2.9 percent).
The researchers point out that the results are all the more striking given the low rates of obese and smoking in this occupational group.
Source: Environmental Health