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Keywords:

  • flight attendants;
  • cancer;
  • mortality;
  • cohort;
  • cosmic radiation;
  • circadian rhythm disruption

Abstract

Background

We evaluated mortality among 11,311 former U.S. flight attendants. The primary a priori outcomes of interest were breast cancer and melanoma.

Methods

Vital status was ascertained through 2007, and life table analyses was conducted. Cumulative exposure to cosmic radiation and circadian rhythm disruption were estimated from work history data and historical published flight schedules.

Results

All-cause mortality was less than expected among women but was elevated among men, primarily due to elevated HIV-related disease mortality. Mortality from breast cancer among women and melanoma was neither significantly elevated nor related to metrics of exposure. Mortality was elevated for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma among men; for alcoholism, drowning, and intentional self-harm among women; and for railway, water, and air transportation accidents.

Conclusions

We found no evidence of increased breast cancer or melanoma mortality. Limitations include reliance on mortality data and limited power resulting from few melanoma deaths and relatively short employment durations. Am. J. Ind. Med. 55:25–36, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.