Pentagon Study Finds Higher Rates of Cancer in Pilots and Ground Crews.

From the Associated Press story by By Tara Copp, released March 19, 2023.

“WASHINGTON (AP) — A Pentagon study has found high rates of cancer among military pilots and for the first time has shown that ground crews who fuel, maintain and launch those aircraft are also getting sick.

The data had long been sought by retired military aviators who have raised alarms for years about the number of air and ground crew members they knew who had cancer. They were told that earlier military studies had found they were not at greater risk than the general U.S. population.

In its yearlong study of almost 900,000 service members who flew on or worked on military aircraft between 1992 and 2017, the Pentagon found that air crew members had an 87% higher rate of melanoma and a 39% higher rate of thyroid cancer, while men had a 16% higher rate of prostate cancer and women a 16% higher rate of breast cancer. Overall, the air crews had a 24% higher rate of cancer of all types.”(1)

An earlier study published in Air Force Times in November of 2021 titled “Fighter jet pilots at greater risk of certain cancers, study concludes” by Rachel S. Cohen found that “Nearly 35,000 active-duty airmen who flew on fighter jets between 1970 and 2004 are at higher risk of developing prostate cancer and melanoma, with possible links to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and testicular cancer as well, according to the largest-ever study on military aviation and cancer.

While the research offers some clues about possible cancer prevention measures, it’s not enough to warrant broad policy changes for the Air Force fighter community, according to the Air Force’s School of Aerospace Medicine at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.” (2)

In the recent article, it has been determined that “…the new study was one of the largest and most comprehensive to date. An earlier study had looked at just Air Force pilots and had found some higher rates of cancer, while this one looked across all services and at both air and ground crews. Even with the wider approach, the Pentagon cautioned that the actual number of cancer cases was likely to be even higher because of gaps in the data, which it said it would work to remedy.

The study “proves that it’s well past time for leaders and policy makers to move from skepticism to belief and active assistance,” said retired Air Force Col. Vince Alcazar, a member of the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association, which had lobbied the Pentagon and Congress for help. Alcazar serves on the association’s medical issues committee.” (1)

To read the full articles

(1) Associated Press:

(2) Air Force Times:

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