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Frequent Flyers May Be More Likely To Develop Cancer, Study Shows


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Flights have never been safer, but frequent flying may be taking a toll on your health. According to a recent study published in the journal Environmental Health, flight attendants and possibly other frequent flyers are at higher risk for breast cancer, melanoma, and non-melanoma skin cancers.

Researchers surveyed 1,642 flight attendants and asked them to report on their cancer diagnoses. After comparing the numbers with data from the general population, researchers found that flight attendants are at higher risk for many different cancers.

“Our results yield information to guide future research regarding the health of this understudied group of workers,” the authors said, “which can also be considered when evaluating how to improve health and quality of life among cabin crew.”

But why are flight attendants at greater risk for different cancers?

As it turns out, the impact of frequent flying on your health isn’t new. Last November, a study on frequent business flyers found that those who traveled more frequently for business were more likely to fall ill compared to their peers.

The reason? Poor sleep, lack of exercise, and poor diet.

Both flight attendants and frequent flyers often suffer from low-quality sleep because their natural sleep cycle has been disrupted. What’s more, many Americans’ sleep cycles are already disrupted by the use of technology before bed. Facebook alone has up to 1.97 billion monthly users worldwide.

By using technology before you go to sleep, you keep your brain from developing melatonin to make you feel tired. This can keep you from getting the deep sleep your body needs to stay healthy.

Lack of exercise due to frequent traveling and sitting along with a poor diet attributed to airport food can also take a toll on frequent flyers and flight attendants’ general health.

“If you’re in your 30s and you’re traveling a lot and you’re eating poorly and you have poor access to physical activity, that starts to catch up with you,” said Dr. Andrew Rundle, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University.

“Over the next 10 years or so, the consequences start to become things like high blood pressure and diabetes and obesity,” Rundle said. “Long-term chronic issues.” Experts recommend frequent flyers and flight attendants to talk to their physicians about health risks and ways to combat them.

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