US flight attendants are more likely to suffer from skin and other cancers than the general population. A study was published in the Environmental Health journal, according to CNN. Live Science noted that the cancers include "breast, cervix, skin, thyroid and uterus, as well as gastrointestinal system cancers, which include colon, stomach, esophageal, liver and pancreatic cancers."

Cancer dangers to cabin crews in the US may be caused by a variety of factors given their environment. CNN noted that "Irina Mordukhovich, a research associate at the Harvard T.H.

Chan School of Public Health," spoke about the breast cancer figures. These were unusual in that the occurrences are higher in the women with three or more children. Usually, the more children a woman has, the lower the chances are of getting breast cancer.

Flight attendant lifestyle can cause carcinogenic exposure

Mordukhovich also explained that one reason for the increased breast cancers could be the lifestyle that flight attendants live. If they have three or more children, they possibly have broken sleep patterns. Combined with their lifestyle that involves long hours and jetlag, this could be exacerbated. The effects of what is termed circadian rhythm disruption are thought to raise the risk of cancer.

Live Science noted that people who fly very frequently, as cabin crews do, are exposed to "known and potential carcinogens." These include things like aviation fuels, disinfectants, and flammable retardent. Then there's something known as cosmic ionizing radiation. This type of radiation is monitored in the EU and there are practices in place to limit the hours that aircraft crews are exposed to it.

However, in the USA, there are not the same safeguards as those of the EU.

Cosmic ionizing radiation can cause cancer

The Federal Aviation Administration explains what cosmic ionizing radiation is in a paper titled, What Aircrews Should Know About Their Occupational Exposure to Ionizing Radiation." On their website, it is noted that "Aircrews are occupationally exposed to ionizing radiation, principally from galactic cosmic radiation." They further explain that "Ionizing radiation consists of subatomic particles that, on interacting with an atom, can cause the atom to lose one or more orbital electrons or even break apart its nucleus.

Such events occurring in body tissues may lead to health problems." The paper then goes on to explain that this can lead to fatal cancers.

The paper also states that the FAA recommends limits for aircraft workers that suffer from exposure to the radiation through their work environment.

Data and findings of the cancer study

The data from the study was collected through the Harvard Flight Attendant Health Study, CNN reported. These were self-reported cases of cancer. Over 5,000 cabin crew participated and their data was compared to over 2,000 people of similar age and status who were not working in planes.

While the study does not establish the actual reasons for the cancer rates, Steve Fiering, of the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, has indicated that the reasoning behind the paper is not easily dismissed.

He noted that melanoma rates were very high and are in fact, "substantial." The study revealed that nonmelanoma occurrences in the women cabin crews were "about four times higher" than other women. Melanoma cancer rates were over twice as high.