A recent study by the Pentagon has shown that military pilots and ground crews who fuel, maintain, and launch aircraft have higher rates of cancer. The study, which analyzed nearly 900,000 service members between 1992 and 2017, found that air crew members had an 87% higher rate of melanoma and a 39% higher rate of thyroid cancer, while ground crews had a 19% higher rate of brain and nervous system cancers, a 15% higher rate of thyroid cancer, and a 9% higher rate of kidney or renal cancers. Women had a 7% higher rate of breast cancer, while men had a 16% higher rate of prostate cancer. Overall, air crews had a 24% higher rate of cancer of all types.
Why Are Military Crews Getting Sick?
The Pentagon report cautioned that the actual number of cancer cases among military pilots and ground crews was likely to be even higher because of gaps in the data. The study was required by Congress in the 2021 defense bill, and the Pentagon has promised to conduct an even bigger review to understand why crews are getting sick.
While the exact cause of the high rates of cancer among military pilots and ground crews is not yet known, it is believed to be linked to prolonged exposure to radiation from the sun and cosmic rays, as well as exposure to other hazardous materials like jet fuel and other chemicals commonly used in aircraft maintenance.
The findings of this study are alarming, and it underscores the need for more research into the long-term health effects of military service, particularly in high-risk occupations like aviation.
Localized Prostate Cancer Treatment: Active Monitoring a Safe Option
In another study, researchers found that men diagnosed with localized prostate cancer can safely choose to actively monitor the disease as a treatment method instead of immediately opting for surgery or radiation.
The study involved 2,664 men between the ages of 50 and 69 who were diagnosed with localized prostate cancer. Of these, 1,643 were enrolled in a trial studying three different treatment methods, including surgery to remove tumors, radiation, and active monitoring.
The study found that the mortality rate from localized prostate cancer 15 years later was relatively low regardless of treatment approach. Therefore, most men diagnosed with localized prostate cancer shouldn't panic or rush to treatment decisions, as active monitoring could be a safe option.
The findings of these two studies highlight the importance of regular health checkups and screenings, especially for people in high-risk occupations like military aviation. While the risks of certain types of cancer are higher in these populations, it's important to remember that not all cancers require immediate aggressive treatment. It's essential to weigh the risks and benefits of treatment options and work with healthcare professionals to determine the best course of action.