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Commercial Airliners

Warning: Airline Crew Appear To Get Cancer More Than The Normal Population

SEE:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/tomas-chlumecky-3200a021/

 

Aliyah Kovner-27 JUN 2018

 

Flight attendants have a tough job. On top of the psychological strain from having to deal with some truly ill-behaved customers, crew members face numerous physiological hazards in the form of frequent circadian rhythm disruptions, breathing poor-quality recycled air, and exposure to ionizing radiation from spending so much time in the upper atmosphere.

 

Medical scientists have known about the potential health risks of this career field for some time, yet the results from the small handful of studies focused on the issue have been frustratingly contradictory, especially when it comes to cancer.

 

But now, a new investigation by the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health appears to quash past uncertainty after finding that a sizable group of airline crew members had higher-than-normal rates of many cancer types.

 

“We report a higher prevalence of every cancer outcome we examined among cabin crew relative to the general population,” the team wrote in the journal Environmental Health, “including breast, uterine, cervical, gastrointestinal, thyroid, melanoma, and non-melanoma skin cancers.”

 

Their ongoing research project, called the Harvard Flight Attendant Health Study (FAHS), began collecting self-reported medical data from 5,366 flight attendants in 2007. 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.

 

Among women crew members, the rates of breast (3.4 percent of flight crew vs 2.3 percent in the general population), uterine (0.15 vs 0.13), cervical (1.0 vs 0.70), gastrointestinal (0.47 vs 0.27), and thyroid (0.67 vs 0.56) cancers were only slightly elevated compared with controls, yet statistical analyses indicated that this pattern was very unlikely due to random chance.

 

For male flight attendants, the authors found higher rates of melanoma (1.2 percent of flight crew compared with 0.69 percent in the general population) and non-melanoma skin cancer (3.2 vs 2.9 percent).

 

Additionally, each five-year chunk spent in the industry was linked to a modestly greater risk of non-melanoma skin cancers in women and all skin cancers in men.

 

“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,” author Dr Irina Mordukhovich said in a statement. “This is striking given the low rates of overweight and smoking in this occupational group.”

 

Of course, this study is only able to report correlation, not causation, and the authors concede that there were non-trivial differences in the demographics of the FAHS and control groups that could have skewed the results. For example, the flight staff participants tended to be older than control subjects and a larger proportion were women.

 

An investigation using control subjects that are also matched for age and sex and data gathered from actual medical records rather than self-reports will yield more solid associations.

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About Aviation Doctor - Helping aviation companies to transform the present into a more profitable tomorrow

I am a Canadian and EU national with an MBA and 33+ years experience in aviation business development with 20 years overseas and work in 30+ countries. A former investment/merchant banker (mergers and acquisitions to corporate turnarounds). airline and OEM senior executive and past owner of 6 successful aviation companies in 3 countries (executive jet charter/management companies, aircraft sales, aircraft broker, airline/aerospace consulting to aircraft insurance). I have a very diverse aviation background with 75+ aviation companies (50+ airlines of all sizes, OEM's, airports, lessors, MRO to service providers) as consultant, executive management, business analyst and business development adviser. Excellent success track record in International Business Development. Most work with airlines is with new start-ups and restructuring of troubled carriers. I sold new business jets, turboprops and helicopters for Cessna, Raytheon, Gulfstream to Eurocopter as an ASR as well as undertaking sales and marketing of commercial aircraft for Boeing, de Havilland, Dornier, Saab and Beechcraft. Brokered everything from LET-410's to B747's and from piston PA31 to G550 business jets. I look beyond the headlines of the aviation news and analyze what the meaning and consequences of the new information really means. There is a story behind each headline that few go beyond. Picked the name Aviation Doctor, as much of my work has been with troubled companies or those that want and need to grow profitably. I fix problems in the business for a better tomorrow. You can reach me with comments or suggestions at: Tomas.Aviation@gmail.com I write a lot of Articles and Posts on LinkedIN: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tomas-chlumecky-3200a021/

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