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Flying increases exposure to UV rays that could cause melanoma
Airline pilots and cabin crew are twice as likely to suffer from skin cancer because of regular exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun at high altitude, US researchers said in a study published on September 3, 2014.
Analysis of 19 studies which included more than 266,000 people found that incidence of melanoma was between 2.21 and 2.22 higher for pilots and 2.09 greater for flight attendants, or more than twice the rate of the general population.
The incidence rate was attributed to ultraviolet rays filtering into planes at high altitude through cockpit windscreens and windows on the fuselage, the study’s author said.
Doctor Martina Sanlorenzo, from the University of California at San Francisco, said the study had “important implications for occupational health and protection of this population.” The study appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association Dermatology.
Twice as Powerful
Researchers reported that at 9,000 meters (30,000 feet) above sea level, the cruising altitude of most commercial jets, carcinogenic ultraviolet rays were twice as powerful.
The researchers used a measure known as standardized incidence ratio, which helps gauge whether the cancer cases observed among specific groups of people are more or less than what would be expected in the general population.
According to the National Cancer Institute, the average American has about a 2 percent risk of developing melanoma during his or her lifetime. The researchers caution that they can’t say why cabin crews may be more likely to develop melanoma. It could be due to greater exposure to solar radiation as altitude increases and the protective barrier of the atmosphere thins.
Over 3.5 million Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancers in 2014, according to the American Cancer Society. About 76,000 people will be diagnosed with melanoma, which is the type of skin cancer that is most likely to lead to death.
Source: Reuters, Pakistan Today
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