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Int J Occup Environ Health. 2002 Apr-Jun;8(2):87-96.

A retrospective cohort mortality study of Italian commercial airline cockpit crew and cabin attendants, 1965-96.

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  • 1Laboratory of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Instituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy.


A retrospective cohort mortality study was conducted among Italian commercial flight personnel for the period 1965-1996. The cohort was composed of 3,022 male cockpit crew members and 3,418 male and 3,428 female cabin attendants. Cause-specific standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) and exact 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated as estimates of the relative risk. Mortality from all cancers was less than expected for all categories (SMRs of 0.58 for male cockpit crew, 0.67 for male cabin attendants, and 0.90 for female cabin attendants). Among male flight personnel, the SMR for leukemia was somewhat elevated (SMR 1.73; 95% CI: 0.75-3.41) based on eight deaths, with a positive trend by length of employment (p = 0.046). Additionally, an excess of death by suicide was seen among female cabin attendants (SMR 3.38; 95% CI: 1.24-7.35). Other Italian studies of flight personnel are under way, including a detailed assessment of cosmic radiation exposure and investigations of non-radiation occupational risk factors and prevalence of nonfatal outcomes.

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