AMHSR

Bone Mineral Densities in Commercial Airline Pilots: An Issue Ignored

Author(s): Masharib Bashar, Uzair Yaqoob* and Shoaib Bhatti

The increased incidence of different types of cancers in commercial pilots has been well known. The National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements reported in 2009 that air crews have, on average, the highest yearly dose of radiation out of all radiation-exposed workers in the US. This means they receive more radiation exposure than people who work alongside nuclear reactors. Gamma rays and X-rays from solar flares pose another radiation risk for pilots. Despite receiving the highest radiation levels among occupationally exposed groups, no data is recorded and kept regarding the total radiation exposure in the entire career of a particular airline pilot. The effects of radiation on musculoskeletal system following radiotherapy and that in astronauts have been well-studied. Those studies have shown damaging effects of radiation on many different cellular types including osteoblasts and its precursors coupled with activation of osteoclastic activity, thus, causing low bone mineral densities in the long run, which itself, is an important risk factor for development of osteoporosis. Such studies may also create greater awareness regarding healthcare of pilots among airline companies and hence, prevention strategies for osteoporosis can be made at a much earlier stage in vulnerable groups of pilots, which will help to positively impact on their future lives.


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