Search tips
Search criteria 


Logo of bmjThe BMJ
BMJ. 1995 September 9; 311(7006): 649–652.
PMCID: PMC2551425

Incidence of cancer among Finnish airline cabin attendants, 1967-92.


OBJECTIVE--To assess whether occupational exposure among commercial airline cabin attendants are associated with risk of cancer. DESIGN--Record linkage study. SETTING--Finland. SUBJECTS-1577 female and 187 male cabin attendants who had worked for the Finnish airline companies. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE--Standardised incidence ratio; expected number of cases based on national cancer incidences. RESULTS--A significant excess of breast cancer (standardised incidence ratio 1.87 (95% confidence interval 1.15 to 2.23)) and bone cancer (15.10 (1.82 to 54.40)) was found among female workers. The risk of breast cancer was most prominent 15 years after recruitment. Risks of leukaemia (3.57 (0.43 to 12.9)) and skin melanoma (2.11 (0.43 to 6.15) were not significantly raised. Among men, one lymphoma and one Kaposi's sarcoma were found (expected number of cases 1.6). CONCLUSIONS--Although the lifestyle of cabin attendants is different from that of the reference population--for example, in terms of social status and parity--concentration of the excess risks to primary sites sensitive to radiation suggests that ionising radiation during flights may add to the cancer risk of all flight personnel. Otherwise the lifestyle of cabin attendants did not seem to affect their risks of cancer. Estimates of the effect of reproductive risk factors only partly explained the increased risk of breast cancer. If present estimates of health hazards due to radiation are also valid for cosmic radiation, then the radiation doses of cabin attendants seem too small to account entirely for the observed excess risk.

Full text

Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (907K), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Friedberg W, Faulkner DN, Snyder L, Darden EB, Jr, O'Brien K. Galactic cosmic radiation exposure and associated health risks for air carrier crewmembers. Aviat Space Environ Med. 1989 Nov;60(11):1104–1108. [PubMed]
  • O'Brien K, McLaughlin JE. The radiation dose to man from galactic cosmic rays. Health Phys. 1972 Mar;22(3):225–232. [PubMed]
  • Teppo L, Pukkala E, Lehtonen M. Data quality and quality control of a population-based cancer registry. Experience in Finland. Acta Oncol. 1994;33(4):365–369. [PubMed]
  • Band PR, Spinelli JJ, Ng VT, Moody J, Gallagher RP. Mortality and cancer incidence in a cohort of commercial airline pilots. Aviat Space Environ Med. 1990 Apr;61(4):299–302. [PubMed]
  • Soini I. Risk factors of breast cancer in Finland. Int J Epidemiol. 1977 Dec;6(4):365–373. [PubMed]
  • Ewertz M, Duffy SW, Adami HO, Kvåle G, Lund E, Meirik O, Mellemgaard A, Soini I, Tulinius H. Age at first birth, parity and risk of breast cancer: a meta-analysis of 8 studies from the Nordic countries. Int J Cancer. 1990 Oct 15;46(4):597–603. [PubMed]

Articles from The BMJ are provided here courtesy of BMJ Publishing Group