Risky take-off

Published: Thursday 15 February 1996

The glamour of the profession apart, airline crew face a heightened risk of cancer. Researchers of the Finnish Cancer Registry conducted a study of the extent to which airline staff were exposed to cosmic radiation and the consequent risk of cancer harboured by them (British Medical journal, Vol 311, No 7006).

All employees, it was found, are exposed to cosmic radiation. Female airline workers show a particularly high incidence of breast and bone cancer. A 1.9 fold increase in the risk of breast cancer and a 15 - fold higher risk of bone cancer, compared with the national average, was estimated. Among male crew members, pilots risked cancers of the brain and rectum.

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