After surveying 5366 U.S. flight attendants about their health, work experience and personal characteristics, scientists compared the prevalence of cancer in their profession with the results of a survey featuring 5000 U.S. residents.
Interestingly, results found that flight attendants had a "higher prevalence of every cancer that was examined."
“Our findings of higher rates of several cancers among flight attendants is striking given the low rates of overweight and smoking in our study population, which highlights the question of what can be done to minimise the adverse exposures and cancers common among cabin crew,” says Harvard research fellow Irina Mordukhovich.
The team of authors put the findings down to disruption of circadian rhythms, exposure to cosmic ionising radiation and potentially exposure to chemical contaminants on aeroplanes.
“The [European Union] already evaluates radiation exposure among flight attendants, which our findings show may be an important step toward lowering cancer risk among this work population,” continues Eileen McNeely, co-director of Harvard’s Sustainability and Health Initiative for NetPositive Enterprise Program at the Centre for Health and the Global Environment.
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