Radiation and Environmental Biophysics

, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 247–256 | Cite as

Cosmic radiation and cancer mortality among airline pilots: results from a European cohort study (ESCAPE)

  • I. LangnerEmail author
  • M. Blettner
  • M. Gundestrup
  • H. Storm
  • R. Aspholm
  • A. Auvinen
  • E. Pukkala
  • G. P. Hammer
  • H. Zeeb
  • J. Hrafnkelsson
  • V. Rafnsson
  • H. Tulinius
  • G. De Angelis
  • A. Verdecchia
  • T. Haldorsen
  • U. Tveten
  • H. Eliasch†
  • N. Hammar
  • A. Linnersjö
Original Paper


Cosmic radiation is an occupational risk factor for commercial aircrews. In this large European cohort study (ESCAPE) its association with cancer mortality was investigated on the basis of individual effective dose estimates for 19,184 male pilots. Mean annual doses were in the range of 2–5 mSv and cumulative lifetime doses did not exceed 80 mSv. All-cause and all-cancer mortality was low for all exposure categories. A significant negative risk trend for all-cause mortality was seen with increasing dose. Neither external and internal comparisons nor nested case-control analyses showed any substantially increased risks for cancer mortality due to ionizing radiation. However, the number of deaths for specific types of cancer was low and the confidence intervals of the risk estimates were rather wide. Difficulties in interpreting mortality risk estimates for time-dependent exposures are discussed.


Standardize Mortality Ratio Cosmic Radiation Increase Radiation Dose Aircraft Type Cumulative Radiation Dose 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



confidence interval


chronic lymphatic leukemia


radiation-related cancers


non-radiation-related cancers


relative risk


standardized mortality ratio


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. Langner
    • 1
    Email author
  • M. Blettner
    • 1
    • 17
  • M. Gundestrup
    • 2
  • H. Storm
    • 3
  • R. Aspholm
    • 4
  • A. Auvinen
    • 5
    • 6
  • E. Pukkala
    • 7
  • G. P. Hammer
    • 8
  • H. Zeeb
    • 1
  • J. Hrafnkelsson
    • 9
  • V. Rafnsson
    • 10
  • H. Tulinius
    • 11
  • G. De Angelis
    • 12
  • A. Verdecchia
    • 12
  • T. Haldorsen
    • 13
  • U. Tveten
    • 14
  • H. Eliasch†
    • 15
  • N. Hammar
    • 16
  • A. Linnersjö
    • 16
  1. 1.School of Public Health, Division of Epidemiology and Medical StatisticsUniversity of Bielefeld BielefeldGermany
  2. 2.Clinic of Aviation Medicine, Department 7522University HospitalCopenhagen NDenmark
  3. 3.Danish Cancer Society, Centre for Cancer DocumentationDepartment of Prevention and DocumentationCopenhagen OEDenmark
  4. 4.Finnish Airline Pilots’ AssociationVantaaFinland
  5. 5.Tampere School of Public HealthUniversity of Tampere TampereFinland
  6. 6.STUK Radiation and Nuclear Safety AuthorityHelsinkiFinland
  7. 7.Finnish Cancer RegistryLiisankatu 21BHelsinkiFinland
  8. 8.Department of Tropical Hygiene and Public HealthUniversity of HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany
  9. 9.LandspitalinnUniversity Hospital ReykjavikIceland
  10. 10.University of IcelandDepartment of Preventive MedicineReykjavikIceland
  11. 11.Icelandic Cancer Registry (ICE)ReykjavikIceland
  12. 12.Istituto Superiore di SanitàLaboratory of Epidemiology & Biostatistics RomeItaly
  13. 13.The Cancer Registry of NorwayMontebello OsloNorway
  14. 14.Institute for Energy Technology KjellerNorway
  15. 15.DjursholmSweden
  16. 16.Department of EpidemiologyKarolinska University HospitalStockholmSweden
  17. 17.Institute of Medical Biometry Epidemiology and InformaticsJohannes-Gutenberg-University MainzMainzGermany

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