Study Shows Airline Crews at Higher Risk for Melanoma

By Mallory Lane

Published 09/03 2014 04:34PM

Updated 09/03 2014 05:10PM

STATE COLLEGE, CENTRE COUNTY - A new study shows pilots and cabin crews are more at risk for skin cancer.

The new study, released Wednesday, said airline pilots and cabin crews have twice the incidence of melanoma as the general population.

Researchers said pilots and flight crews are at higher risk for exposure to ionizing radiation, which is already known and heavily monitored, but doctors said pilots and flight crews could have a higher risk of melanoma because of increased altitude-related exposure to UV and cosmic radiation, which is harder to monitor.

Doctors said this study is also surprising because pilots are often considered healthier than most in other medical categories.

"It's actually interesting that pilots tend to be healthier in the cardiovascular area than the general population, but yet have this higher risk of melanoma," Tara Baney, CRNP with Cancer Care Partnership at Mount Nittany Medical Center.

Doctors said pilot and flight crew work schedules may have something to do with it, too, as their circadian rhythm may interrupt their sleep patterns. They say it could also be the fact that they travel more often to warmer climates and are out in the sun more than the general public.

Doctors encourage researchers to conduct more studies like this one to better understand the causes.

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