A new study has found that cabin attendants are more at risk of multiple cancers – and exposure to radiation (at higher altitudes there is less atmospheric protection against cosmic rays from space). Hello, red-eye shifts and constant jet lag) were named as possible causes.
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For the latest study, published in the journal Environmental Health, researchers used data from the Harvard Flight Attendant Health Survey, which included answers from more than 5,300 flight attendants. They compared these results with data from nearly 3,000 adults with a similar socio-economic background, participants in the National Health and Nutrition Review (NHANES).
The results showed that in women breast cancer was 1
In a publication, study author Irina Mordukhovich, a research fellow at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, called the results "conspicuous," given the low rates of obesity and smoking in the cabin crew – 8 percent of participating flight attendants were current smokers, compared to 16 percent of respondents NHANES.
So, what is the fault of the prevalence of cancer in flight attendants? Although the study did not identify any cause (which was not their task), Mordukhovich and her colleagues gave some possible explanations, including exposure of flight attendants to cosmic ionizing radiation (or radiation from space)
are constantly exposed to small amounts of ionizing radiation Although our atmosphere offers a degree of protection. At higher altitudes, where the air is thinner, more radiation penetrates, which some researchers suspect may increase your risk of cancer.
"The cabin crew has the largest annual ionizing radiation dose of all US workers," study authors said. The radiation dose is measured in millisieverts per year (mSv) and previous studies have shown that the average dose for cabin crew is 3.07 mSv compared to 0.59 mSv for US Department of Energy.
To relativize these figures, LIVESTRONG spoke to Timothy J. Jorgensen, Ph.D., director of the Graduate Program in Health Physics and Radiation Protection at Georgetown University
He explains that radiation doses in the natural background (the amount with which We are all facing solid ground here) ranging from about 3.0 mSv per year for residents of New York City (approximately at sea level) to 12.0 mSv per year in a high-altitude location such as Denver.
"So you can see that most crew members are receiving a lower radiation dose than people in Denver," says Jorgensen. "Since it has never been proven that people living in Denver or other areas with higher background doses have a higher risk of cancer due to their radiation exposure, I do not see what the supposedly higher risk of cancer for cabin crew can be, explained by their radiation doses, which admittedly is very high
Experts estimate that exposure to 1 mSv radiation increases your cancer risk by .005 percent, so if a flight attendant worked for 30 years, for a cumulative exposure of 90 mSv, your increased lifelong risk, at one potential deadly cancer would be 0.45 percent.
Given the small increase in risk, Jörgensen considers the authors' alternative explanations for higher cancer rates more likely than radiation. "
In addition to exposure to radiation, flight attendants are exposed to other possible carcinogens (such as jet fuel, pesticides that are killed on board insects, and flame-retardant chemicals) udy authors. But perhaps the explanation with most research behind it is the irregular sleeping plans used by
Indeed, a new meta-analysis of 61 studies combined shift work and interrupted circadian rhythm with an increased risk of breast, skin, and gastrointestinal cancers in women.
The reason? our bodies repair DNA damage is better when we sleep at night than when we sleep during the day, according to a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine in 2017. Study authors found that lower levels of melatonin, also known as "sleep hormone", are likely to affect shiftworkers Blame (light suppresses the hormone that is normally in the body)
"What seems to happen, and this is supported by many animal and cellular evidence, is melatonin normally repairing damage," said lead author Parveen Bhatti, Ph.D., an epidemiologist with Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in a press release. "At low melatonin levels, their repair machinery does not work optimally."
Bhatti and other researchers are investigating whether melatonin supplements could counteract the effects of nocturnal labor.
Flight attendants take matters into their own hands. The cabin crew association – CWA, the most important union of the workers' group, urges airlines and regulators to "change working conditions to reduce risk". The organization also plans to educate its members on the potential risks of both radiation exposure and the disrupted sleep pattern.
Last but not least, it will at least raise awareness and help with the early detection of cancer.
Did you know? the connection between circadian arrhythmia and cancer? Does this cancer risk increase affect you personally or someone you know? Do you think that the results of the study could prevent people from entering a profession related to flying? Let us know in the comments below.
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