Radiation and Environmental Biophysics

, Volume 49, Issue 2, pp 187–194 | Cite as

Cancer mortality among German aircrew: second follow-up

  • Hajo Zeeb
  • Gaël P. Hammer
  • Ingo Langner
  • Thomas Schafft
  • Sabrina Bennack
  • Maria Blettner
Original Paper


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.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hajo Zeeb
    • 1
  • Gaël P. Hammer
    • 1
  • Ingo Langner
    • 2
  • Thomas Schafft
    • 3
  • Sabrina Bennack
    • 1
  • Maria Blettner
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Medical Biostatistics, Epidemiology & Informatics, University Medical CenterUniversity of MainzMainzGermany
  2. 2.Bremen Institute for Prevention Research and Social MedicineUniversity of BremenBremenGermany
  3. 3.Department of Epidemiology & International Public HealthUniversity of BielefeldBielefeldGermany

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