, Volume 49, Issue 2, pp 187-194
Date: 16 Oct 2009

Cancer mortality among German aircrew: second follow-up

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Abstract

Aircrew members are exposed to cosmic radiation and other specific occupational factors. In a previous analysis of a large cohort of German aircrew, no increase in cancer mortality or dose-related effects was observed. In the present study, the follow-up of this cohort of 6,017 cockpit and 20,757 cabin crew members was extended by 6 years to 2003. Among male cockpit crew, the resulting all-cancer standardized mortality ratio (SMR) (n = 127) is 0.6 (95% CI 0.5–0.8), while for brain tumors it is 2.1 (95% CI 1.0–3.9). The cancer risk is significantly raised (RR = 2.2, 95% CI 1.2–4.1) among cockpit crew members employed 30 years or more compared to those employed less than 10 years. Among both female and male cabin crew, the all-cancer SMR and that for most individual cancers are close to 1. The SMR for breast cancer among female crew is 1.2 (95% CI 0.8–1.8). Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma among male cabin crew is increased (SMR 4.2; 95% CI 1.3–10.8). However, cancers associated with radiation exposure are not raised in the cohort. It is concluded that among cockpit crew cancer mortality is low, particularly for lung cancer. The positive trend of all cancer with duration of employment persists. The increased brain cancer SMR among cockpit crew requires replication in other cohorts. For cabin crew, cancer mortality is generally close to population rates. Cosmic radiation dose estimates will allow more detailed assessments, as will a pooling of updated aircrew studies currently in planning.

This paper is based on a presentation given at the International Conference on Late Health Effects of Ionizing Radiation, 4–6 May 2009, Georgetown University, Washington DC, USA.