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Brain Cancer risk?

Old 02-27-2012, 07:23 AM
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Default Brain Cancer risk?

Well, I've already lost two close Delta Pilot friends to Brain Cancer, and now another pilot friend has it.

Is it me, or do Pilots seem to get it a lot more than the general public? I know of zero people in my circle of -nonpilot- friends who have ever had it, yet I can name 5 Delta pilots who have died from it in the past 25 years or so.

This latest case told me his doctor said the chances of getting brain cancder are 1 in 30,000...I'm sure I don't know 5 x 30,000 people, but I do know of 5 Delta Pilots who have died of it. That's a pretty small group, less than 10,000, even if it is over the past 25 years. And I don't know all of them, obviously there are probably many more whom I have not heard about.

So, if there are any Brain Surgeons in the house, do you see more incidences of brain cancer in airline pilots, than in the general public?

Pilots at other arilines, do you see many cases of brain cancer in your pilot group? Or maybe it's something in the ATL water supply...?
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Old 02-27-2012, 07:46 AM
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Some reading material for ya while cruising at 410:

http://www.faa.gov/library/reports/m...media/0316.pdf

CONCLUDING REMARKS

Although one cannot exclude the possibility of harm from occupational exposure to radiation at the doses likely to be received during a career of flying, it would be impossible to establish that an abnormality or disease in a particular individual resulted from such exposure.

In estimating radiation-induced health risks for air- crews and their progeny, we used dose-effect relationships recommended by national and international organizations recognized for their expertise in evaluating radiation ef- fects. However, considerable uncertainty exists in the es- timates because the original data is primarily from studies on individuals exposed to radiation at much higher doses and dose rates and generally of lower energy than the galactic cosmic radiation to which aircrews are exposed. Also, controls were often inadequate. These differences are the major reason that epidemiological studies involv- ing aircrews are important.
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Old 02-27-2012, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Golden Bear View Post
Some reading material for ya while cruising at 410:

http://www.faa.gov/library/reports/m...media/0316.pdf

Thanks for the info. GB. But what I'd like to see is the actual data, ie. how many pilots are getting brain cancer, when (at what age), and is that number higher or lower than the general population, as a percentage of all actively flying Comercial and Military Pilots, and then figure out why, unless the ratio is exactly the same as the general, non-flying, public.

I'm not so worried about the 'cosmic' radiation from the sun, although it can't be good for you, but I am more worried about the electronic stuff we are exposed to on the flight deck, all day and all night. Like wearing a headset all day. Is that the same as having a cell phone in your ear all day? Probably not, but it can't be good for your brain cells!

Is there some evidence that cell phones are causing an increase in brain cancer in the general population? Why? Radio and eltronic waves near your ear? Well, what about all the electronics in the typical airline cockpit? Is that good for you?

Last edited by Timbo; 02-27-2012 at 12:52 PM.
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Old 02-27-2012, 01:35 PM
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to date there is no evidence of any of the above discussed causing brain cancer. Studies continue especially with cellphones.
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Old 02-27-2012, 02:13 PM
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Thanks, do you know if anyone is keeping track of what kills Pilots, ie. what is the most common ailment that medically disqualifies us, (heart disease? Cancer?) and what is the most common ailment that kills us before reaching 'retirement age' (now 65).

When the age was first raised to 65, I figured at least 50% of the 'over 60' pilots wouldn't make it to 65 (keep a first class medical) but I just flew with a 63yr. old copilot, and I cannot think of a single -over 60- pilot who has lost his medical, and I know (and fly with) quite a few of them.

Of course in these days, very few are smoking and drinking like they did back in the 1970's. I don't know a single pilot who smokes cigarettes any more, where as 25 years ago I didn't know too many who didn't. They are eating better too, not nearly as overweight as they were 25 years ago...so...maybe that's why most of the over 60 guys are surviving to 65.
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Old 02-27-2012, 03:39 PM
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Genetics. If you live long enough and escape all the other killers, you will develop some form of cancer. That is a fact.

Radiation in mild doses may prevent some cancers, radiation is used as a treatment, because many cancer cells cannot tolerate it as well as normal cells.

Cell phones-you are exposed daily to far more electromagnetic energy than a cell phone could ever produce.

You are going to die, some will die sooner than others, but living to the ripe old age of ninety is not always a happy outcome. Enjoy.
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Old 02-27-2012, 03:41 PM
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same as gen population: heart incl bp, diabetes, cancer ,mental health. Many medicines are now approved for all. After cancer rx, one can return to flying. So in general pilots health issues are no different than other 'executive' professions.
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Old 02-27-2012, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by jungle View Post
Genetics. If you live long enough and escape all the other killers, you will develop some form of cancer. That is a fact.

Radiation in mild doses may prevent some cancers, radiation is used as a treatment, because many cancer cells cannot tolerate it as well as normal cells.

Cell phones-you are exposed daily to far more electromagnetic energy than a cell phone could ever produce.

You are going to die, some will die sooner than others, but living to the ripe old age of ninety is not always a happy outcome. Enjoy.

I had heard that 'if you live long enough' thing before, but it was about prostate cancer. So...I guess I am just unfortunate enough to know 5 airline pilots who have all died of brain cancer in their 50's? And it's just a coincidence that they all fly for the same airline? And the incidence of brain cancer in pilots is no different than the general population?

My gut says no. Are there any published numbers that say yes?
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Old 02-27-2012, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Timbo View Post
I had heard that 'if you live long enough' thing before, but it was about prostate cancer. So...I guess I am just unfortunate enough to know 5 airline pilots who have all died of brain cancer in their 50's? And it's just a coincidence that they all fly for the same airline? And the incidence of brain cancer in pilots is no different than the general population?

My gut says no. Are there any published numbers that say yes?
I doubt there is any proven relation between pilots and the general population with regard to death rates, my guess is that pilots are on the whole more healthy because of the extensive selection process.

I find it interesting that many people die when engaged in healthy activities such as tennis or running.

You cannot escape your fate by riding to the next village.

My grandmother probably speeded things up a bit by drinking bourbon straight and smoking unfiltered Camels, she was taken early at age 87. Still quite spry, even at that age.

Last edited by jungle; 02-27-2012 at 06:09 PM.
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Old 02-27-2012, 06:21 PM
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My Wife's Grandmother lived to be 102...and from about age 82-92 I would sneak her a 6 pack of Coors Light a couple times a week, put it in the back of her fridge. She would tell the others they were mine, but she drank one every day. She said that's what kept her 'lubricated'.

And she walked a lot, almost every day, about a 3 mile loop, from her house to the post office, to her book club, to her girlfriend's house and back home. She never smoked though.

My Dad died of cancer when he was 33, I was 6. He smoked like a chimney. I do not have a single picture of him without a cigarette in his hand, even in his wedding photo, so I had a pretty strong incentive to never start.

My mother is still going strong at 78, very sharp mind, does income tax work pro-bono for the 'elderly'! She also walks 3 miles every morning and drinks a beer a day with dinner! (and not a Light Beer, but the real stuff, Sam Adams or Smutty Nose Stout)

But she was early into the 'health food' craze, even before there was a health food craze. When we were kids in the 1960's, she had us drinking skim milk, always. And oatmeal for breakfast, no eggs and bacon. She had a salad on the table before every meal and NO SALT allowed. We rarely ate red meat, mostly chicken, fish and pasta dishes.
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