Thinking about a change of careers? If you’re worried about skin cancer, it might not be a good time to go into the airline industry.
New findings published in the JAMA Dermatology journal indicate that pilots and flight crews are more susceptible to the most dangerous form of skin cancer, melanoma, than members of the general public.
While no new research has been performed on the matter, Dr. Susana Ortiz-Urda, co-director of the UCSF Melanoma Center, led analysis of existing research that found a link between pilots, airline crews and melanoma. In fact, the analysis found that people in these careers are up to twice as likely to develop the sometimes-deadly disease.
Why the Link?
Experts are still in debate about the reasonsbehind the identified correlation, but there are several theories that have been proposed. So what are experts considering as they try to find out more about the link between flight crews and skin cancer?
Poor UV Protection on Planes
UV (ultraviolet) rays from the sun are often the culprit in skin cancer cases. Some experts are concerned about the UV protection offered by the windows on commercial planes. While flight attendants and pilots may not get much exposure at any one time, the results can be cumulative, and this could be a reason for the link to skin cancer. Unfortunately, the analysis could not conclude whether or not the windows were to blame, just that the skin cancer link existed. Some experts were skeptical of this point, arguing that airline windows do address UV radiation, and work to filter out many harmful rays.
Increased Leisure Activity
Another theory is that because airline crews often spend more time in sunny, tropical locales, they spend more leisure time swimming, sunbathing, and being exposed to UV rays. The authors of the analysis think this is unlikely, but others argue that airplane windows are highly effective in shutting out UV radiation, making that claim unlikely as well.
Overall Elevated Radiation Levels
It may not be clear as to why airline crews are more susceptible to skin cancer, but it is true that radiation levels are elevated in flight. According to the authors of the analysis: “For every additional 900 meters [2,952 feet] of altitude above sea level, there is a 15 percent increase in intensity of UV radiation. At 9,000 meters [29,527 feet], where most commercial aircraft fly, the UV level is approximately twice that of the ground.” Only further study can reveal the implications of this, however.
Is Your Career Putting You at Risk?
Pilots aren’t the only workers who are being put at risk for melanoma. Any job involving significant exposure to UV radiation is risky and increases the chances for melanoma development. Aside from traditional outdoor jobs like construction work and landscaping, truck drivers can also increase the risk for sun damage. This is because most car and truck windows do not sufficiently filter out UV rays, and the left side of the face is exposed to a great deal of radiation over long periods of time. Some chemicals can also make you more sensitive to cancers. Think about your occupation and consider whether you may be at risk without even knowing it. If your career is putting you in danger, what can you do?
UV rays can be sneaky, and it’s important to think about how you can prevent sun damage before it gets worse. While protecting your skin with sunscreen and clothing may seem like an inconvenience, it certainly beats dealing with melanoma later in life. Be sure to use an adequate amount (1 oz) of sunscreen, and apply it whenever you will be exposed to UV rays, even on cloudy days or when sitting near windows for extended periods of time.
A second way to prevent skin cancer is to thoroughly check your skin for irregularities and lesions that could be cancerous. Perform a head to toe check every month and report any suspicious areas to your dermatologist immediately. Early detection saves lives.
Exposure to the sun and UV rays don’t just put you at higher risk for skin cancer, they also speed up the rate of aging and cause a range of aesthetic problems. Skin looking tired and weathered? Sun exposure may be the culprit. Here are some of the ways UV rays can harm your skin over time:
- Unwanted pigmentations (such as “sun spots”)
- Dull, weathered skin
- Increased wrinkling
- Sagging skin
- Depleted collagen and elastin production
Although it is impossible to heal all damage from the sun, there are several minimally-invasive procedures that can help rejuvenate the face for a more youthful appearance. Some popular treatments include:
- Botox® (wrinkles)
- Fillers (wrinkles, volume loss)
- eMatrix™ (pigmentation, wrinkles, general sun damage)
- Sublime™ (skin tightening, overall quality, fine lines)
- Ultherapy® (skin tightening)
- Laser resurfacing (pigmentation, wrinkles, redness)
Many of these treatments offer great results with little downtime, and can help slow down the aging process for a while. All of these treatments must be performed by a qualified dermatologist or plastic surgeon to prevent complications.
If you think you’re at risk for developing skin cancer, or you’re worried about an irregularity in your skin, then it’s time to seek help and speak with an expert. Even if you’re simply concerned with the aesthetic s of your skin, a qualified dermatologist should be your first stop on the road to healthy, beautiful skin.
If you’re looking for professional advice in the Miami area, then come to the offices of Dr. Diane Walder and her colleague Dr. Chimento. Dr. Walder is known as an authority on cosmetic skincare, aging, and skin cancer. If you’re ready to get an expert opinion on your skin, then call 305-866-2177 today to schedule your appointment.