Airline pilots and cabin crew have double melanoma risk

Airline pilots and cabin crew have double melanoma risk

Airline pilots and cabin crew are exposed to both cosmic radiation and UVA and have double the risk of melanoma over the general population according to a meta-analysis by scientists from the University of California and published January 2015 in JAMA.

In January 2014, a study published in the British Medical Journal started the concerns over pilots and skin cancers.
Next, a study in the Journal of Phytochemistry and Photobiology showed that pilots on an Airbus A321 flight had UVA exposure considerably higher than recommended maximum levels. In some cases the figures were 50 times higher than maxima.

And then a third study from scientists at the University of California confirmed the UVA exposure - known to be deeply penetrating and linked to DNA damage and melanoma - and damage from cosmic rays - X-rays, gamma-rays and subatomic particles were linked to a more than doubling of melanoma risk.

Pilots have been recommended to wear sun visors and dark glasses and more research is planned especially on cockpit screens.

The affects on very frequent flyers are not yet clarified.

The meta-analysis(1), involving 19 studies and 266, 431 participants, looked at the risk of melanoma given that pilots and cabin crew are exposed to much higher levels of cosmic radiation and UVA. This analysis has shown that pilots have a 2.2 fold risk compared with the general population, and cabin crew was 2.09.

Chris Woollams, former Oxford University Biochemist and a founder of CANCERactive, "We also know that their risk is not just of skin cancer and melanoma but of brain tumours. We have dealt with a number of pilots- and quite young ones - with glioma (GBM), and apparently both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have had a number of pilots with cancer. Cancer is clearly a health hazard for pilots. One hour in a cockpit gives the same UVA exposure as 20 minutes on a tanning bed.

There is, however, another contributory factor. Long haul pilots and cabin crews have disturbed sleeping patterns and this results in lowered melatonin levels in the body. Melatonin is a regulator of oestrogen and growth hormone apart from being a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Pilots, stewardesses, night shift workers in general, are all know to develop more ER+ve breast cancers and prostate cancer. There is research showing that oestrogen (estrogen) can increase the risk of melanoma and melanoma recurrence."
Go to: Overview on Melanoma and Skin Cancer
 

Ref

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4482339/

2014 Research
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