Hostesses, stewards, flight attendants: discover why they are more at risk of cancer

Airline crew members would suffer more from cancers, including breast and skin. This is the result of an American study published Tuesday.

The navigating personnel would be more affected by certain cancers, compared to the general population. This is revealed in a study published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Health. Of the 5366 flight attendants * who participated in this study, just over 15% said they had already been diagnosed with cancer, say researchers at the Harvard USH School of Public Health. Chan.

In hostesses, stewards and pilots, researchers found a higher frequency of all cancers considered in the study. Among them, breast cancer (3.4% among the crew members against 2.3% in the general population), thyroid cancer (0.67% vs. 0.56%), cancer of the the uterus (0.15% vs. 0.13%), cervical cancer (1.0% vs. 0.70%) and gastrointestinal cancers (0.47% vs. 0.27% ).

A disturbance of the "circadian rhythm"

The study found an association between five years working as a stewardess and skin cancer, other than melanoma, in women. While a higher frequency of some cancers may be related to the number of years spent working onboard, the study authors found no association with thyroid cancer, breast cancer or melanoma.

On the other hand, there is an increased risk of breast cancer among female childless flight attendants and those with three or more children. How can this be explained? "Never having a child is a known risk factor for breast cancer" reveals Dr. Irina Mordukhovich, co-author of the study. The link between flight attendants with three children and the increased risk of breast cancer comes from the fact that the 24-hour biological rhythm is too disrupted. Indeed, "This may be due to a combination of circadian rhythm disruption sources such as sleep deprivation and irregular schedules both at home and at work"she explains.

Stewards more exposed to skin cancer

Another alarming finding on the men's side is that stewards have higher rates of melanoma and other skin cancers, especially if they had been exposed to passive smoking before smoking was banned in 1998.

* More than 80% of the participants were women in the profession for more than twenty years.

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