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Aviat Space Environ Med. 2003 Sep;74(9):953-6.

Stable chromosome aberrations and ionizing radiation in airline pilots.

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Department of Biometry and Epidemiology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC 29425, USA.



The purpose of this study was to determine the frequency of translocations and insertions in the blood of long-term pilots in relation to estimated cumulative radiation dose received while flying, and to compare that to the frequency in a group of similarly aged men without a history of frequent airline travel.


Healthy, non-smoking male pilots aged 40-60 yr were recruited from a single airline. Non-pilot controls were recruited from healthy, non-smoking professional males in the same age range and without a history of frequent flying. Eligibility was determined based on screening surveys. Career pilot radiation doses were calculated individually using airline flight profiles, personal flight history, and the CARI computer program. Translocation frequency was determined using fluorescence in situ hybridization.


Blood samples for chromosome analysis were provided by 19 individuals. The mean number of metaphases counted per subject was 2802 in the pilots and 3000 in the controls. The mean number of translocations per cell (genome equivalent) was significantly higher among the pilots (mean +/- SE; 0.0031 +/- 0.0008) than among the controls (0.0010 +/- 0.0003) (p = 0.03, Mann-Whitney U test). However, within the 26 to 72 millisievert range encountered in this study, observed values among the pilots did not follow the dose-response pattern expected based on available models for chronic low dose radiation exposure.


There was a statistically significant higher number of translocations per cell among pilots than among controls, although the expected dose-response relationship for radiation was not observed among the pilots.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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