Journal Article

Mortality from Cancer and Other Causes among Airline Cabin Attendants in Europe: A Collaborative Cohort Study in Eight Countries

Hajo Zeeb, Maria Blettner, Ingo Langner, Gaël P. Hammer, Terri J. Ballard, Mariano Santaquilani, Maryanne Gundestrup, Hans Storm, Tor Haldorsen, Ulf Tveten, Niklas Hammar, Annette Linnersjö, Emmanouel Velonakis, Anastasia Tzonou, Anssi Auvinen, Eero Pukkala, Vilhjálmur Rafnsson and Jón Hrafnkelsson

in American Journal of Epidemiology

Published on behalf of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Volume 158, issue 1, pages 35-46
Published in print July 2003 | ISSN: 0002-9262
Published online July 2003 | e-ISSN: 1476-6256 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aje/kwg107
Mortality from Cancer and Other Causes among Airline Cabin Attendants in Europe: A Collaborative Cohort Study in Eight Countries

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There is concern about the health effects of exposure to cosmic radiation during air travel. To study the potential health effects of this and occupational exposures, the authors investigated mortality patterns among more than 44,000 airline cabin crew members in Europe. A cohort study was performed in eight European countries, yielding approximately 655,000 person-years of follow-up. Observed numbers of deaths were compared with expected numbers based on national mortality rates. Among female cabin crew, overall mortality (standardized mortality ratio (SMR) = 0.80, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.73, 0.88) and all-cancer mortality (SMR = 0.78, 95% CI: 0.66, 0.95) were slightly reduced, while breast cancer mortality was slightly but nonsignificantly increased (SMR = 1.11, 95% CI: 0.82, 1.48). In contrast, overall mortality (SMR = 1.09, 95% CI: 1.00, 1.18) and mortality from skin cancer (for malignant melanoma, SMR = 1.93, 95% CI: 0.70, 4.44) among male cabin crew were somewhat increased. The authors noted excess mortality from aircraft accidents and from acquired immunodeficiency syndrome in males. Among airline cabin crew in Europe, there was no increase in mortality that could be attributed to cosmic radiation or other occupational exposures to any substantial extent. The risk of skin cancer among male crew members requires further attention.

Keywords: aviation; cohort studies; cosmic radiation; mortality; neoplasms; occupational exposure; Abbreviations: AIDS, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome; CI, confidence interval; ESCAPE, European Study of Cancer Risk among Airline Pilots and Cabin Crew; SMR, standardized mortality ratio.

Journal Article.  7266 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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