US Flight Crew Have Higher Cancer Rates

A recently published study suggests that U.S. flight crew have higher rates of specific cancers than the general population. The study was published on the journal  Environmental Health.

The study involved 5,366 US flight attendants, and reported a higher lifetime prevalence of breast, melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers among cabin crew. This occupational group is at lower rates of overweight and smoking than the general population, which are both risk factors to cancers. It’s striking that this group shows higher rates of breast and skin cancers than the general population. 

  • Breast cancer  (3.4% of flight crew compared to 2.3% in the general population)
  • Uterine cancer (0.15 % compared to 0.13%)
  • Cervical (1.0% compared to 0.70%)
  • Gastrointestinal (0.47% compared to 0.27%)
  • Thyroid (0.67% compared to 0.56%) cancers.

Especially, some of this increased cancer incidence may be related to the number of years flight attendants spend in their jobs. The researchers found an association between each five-year increase in time spent working as a flight attendant and non-melanoma skin cancer among women, and breast cancer in women who never had children (nulliparous women) and women who had three or more children.

Male flight attendants were found to have higher rates of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer (1.2% and 3.2% in flight crew compared to 0.69% and 2.9% in the general population, respectively), especially if they were exposed to high levels of occupational secondhand smoke before the introduction of smoking bans in 1998.



* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.