Flight attendants expose themselves to plenty of health risks when they sign up for this job. However, the scientific evidence was scarce when it came to certain risks, such as cancer. Now, researchers have finally managed to develop a conclusive study that proves airline workers have a higher risk of developing cancer than other people.
The flight attendant job implies some risks
There are plenty of physical risks that affect flight attendants, including circadian rhythm changes and radiation exposure from the upper atmosphere. However, researchers weren’t able to delve too well into the issue. Their results were even fewer when it came to cancer, so a team of researchers from Harvard University decided to perform a new analysis.
They started the project in 2007, when they had 5,366 flight attendants self-report their health state. Every year, they repeated the observations so, for this study, they used the results from 2014. Afterwards, they used a control group of 2,729 people with a similar social economic situation to the flight attendants.
Flight attendants exhibit a bigger cancer risk regardless of gender
This way, they noticed flight attendants had a much bigger chance of getting cancer than the control group. In female attendants, the risks of breast, uterine, cervical, gastrointestinal, and thyroid cancer were all bigger. There wasn’t too much of a difference between them and regular people, but statistics show such discrepancies cannot occur randomly.
In male attendants, the risk of skin cancer was bigger when it came to both melanoma and non-melanoma tumors. Also, for every five years they spend as flight attendants, these people increase their risk of skin cancer regardless of gender.
This is the best study ever developed that assesses the cancer risk among flight attendants. The results are quite surprising, since these people are usually not exposed to other risks like smoking or obesity. However, there’s something you should keep in mind. The study was observational, so it couldn’t account for any possible causes for this elevated risk. Also, researchers think some factors might have influenced the results, such as the younger age of the control group.
The study was published in the journal Environmental Health.
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