Cancer at 41,000 Feet:
An Insider Tells All
Exclusive YOWUSA.COM Tell-all
Interview With an Aviation Expert
Modern Air Travel and Radiation
Since the dawn of aviation more and more people have taken to the skies to reach their destinations in shorter periods of time while still having some
of the creature comforts we are so used to having and, for the most part, tend to take for granted. As we progressed through the propeller age of aircraft these aluminum-skinned airframes became more and more
capable of achieving higher altitudes with the advent of aircraft cabin pressurization and climate control. But these propeller (prop) driven
aircraft were limited in their altitude capability due to the prop's high need for denser air to provide the needed thrust to sustain the aircraft at altitude.
With the introduction of the jet age we were finally able to attain higher altitudes, faster speeds, better climate control in the aircraft cabin, with
less fuel expended. These jet aircraft were capable, and quite often attained and sustained, altitudes above 29,000 feet during the course of a
flight for the purpose of reaching a destination more quickly. Fuel price during the beginning of the jet age wasn't a concern since oil was fairly inexpensive to purchase.
As time progressed oil prices began to rise at a steady pace with the occasional high spike during times of war and economical distress.
Commercial airlines began to feel the pinch of the high oil prices every time their aircraft needed fuel. The effects of higher airport landing taxes
and higher aircraft maintenance expenses were also affecting the bottom line of all the airline's bank accounts. It is at this time that airline
management began to perform in-depth studies on how to better their financial position with the use of new technologies.
New aircraft began to emerge from the studies performed by aircraft manufacturers, with input from the airlines. New and better fuel-efficient
turbofan engines were created. More aerodynamic airframes were built. Lighter materials were created and used throughout the aircraft cabin,
airframe, and hydraulic and electrical systems to name a few. Computer systems and entire computer networks began to be installed on the aircraft
to better monitor the aircraft's systems for optimal operation and ease of troubleshooting problems. Airlines also discovered that flying at altitudes
above 29,000 feet, while flying the most direct flights to their destination, allowed them more time at their destination to plan for other needs like the
possible re-routing of a flight due to weather or the performance of aircraft maintenance. All of this contributed to better fuel efficiency, fuel economy,
and money savings to the airlines. But there was additional data that was produced that the airlines did not expect.
From the studies conducted, airlines discovered that extended periods of flying above 29,000 feet exposed not just the flight crews but also the
passengers to high levels of radiation. This radiation varied from the type used for chest x-rays to gamma radiation. The airlines also discovered
that no amount of shielding, short of using lead, would block the radiation. The new metal alloys and composite materials now used on airframes
were useless for radiation protection. If lead were used for shielding it would then add more weight to the aircraft thus raising the total aircraft
weight and reducing fuel savings. So it was decided by the airlines that the amount of radiation flight crews and passengers were exposed to, based
on their studies, was nominal and would not be detrimental to their health and well-being. But as the 20th century was coming to a close it was
evident that there was an increasing amount of reports from flight crews, as well as frequent flyer passengers, of diseases like cancer and deep vein thrombosis that was being experienced.
Now, independent studies from all over the world are showing that various diseases are increasing at an alarming rate among flight crews and
frequent flyer passengers. This dramatic increase of disease appears to be in direct correlation with the sun's record breaking solar activity.
With all the concerns around the world should we worry about how much radiation we're exposed when flying? One aviation expert I recently
interviewed says we should worry. Based on first hand knowledge, and personal experience, he talks to us about the dangers of radiation
exposure during regular and increased solar radiation flying. For the purposes of this interview we will call him "Bob".
DAVE: Hello Bob. Thank you for the interview today.
BOB: Thank you Dave. I hope this will be helpful for people.
DAVE: I'd like to start off with a little background on yourself if you don't mind.
BOB: I don't mind at all. I have over 30 years in the aviation industry with
an airframe & powerplant certificate, commercial and airline transport pilot certificate, and a degree in aeronautical engineering. I've worked and
flown general aviation (small airplanes) aircraft and large transport category aircraft (commercial airlines). I've also worked in the aircraft manufacturing industry working my way up from a maintenance and
avionics inspector to a flight test pilot and engineer for a major aircraft manufacturing company. I finished up my career flying for a major commercial airline first, as a pilot, then as an engineer.
DAVE: That's quite an impressive background you have. Did you find any time for marriage?
BOB: (Laughing) Oh yes. I had plenty of time for that.
DAVE:: With so many years working in aviation why do you feel you need to speak out now regarding radiation exposure?
I have to admit that when I was younger I didn't give it much thought about how much I was exposed to. Even when I was informed about the amount of radiation I would receive when flying above 29,000
feet, which was nominal according to my employer at that time, I didn't have a care in the world. As long as I was able to fly is what mattered to me. After I retired from
the airline industry in May of 2000, I ran into some bad luck. I was diagnosed with cancer in the brain.
DAVE: I'm sorry for you. Is there any chance for any treatment?
Bob: I have gone through the whole regiment of chemotherapy and as of January of 2003 I am in remission. I thank God for that.
DAVE: That's good to hear. Have you done any research on the subject due to your illness?
BOB: Plenty. Recent studies have shown, and continue to show, that
airline passengers and flight crewmembers are exposed to harmful solar radiation when flying above 29,000 feet. The exposure is increased when
flying over the northern or southern latitudes and / or long flights during increased solar activity.
The majority of people that have experienced adverse reactions from this kind of exposure have been flight crews flying for extended periods of time
over the course of their flying career. Medical reports of skin and brain cancer and deep vein thrombosis among flight crewmembers and airline passengers have been clearly documented and on the rise.
Deep Leg Vein Thrombosis
A venous thrombosis is a blood clot in a vein. A blood clot generally
develops in damaged blood vessels or in places where the blood flow stops or slows down, such as the calves of the legs. Blood clots can occur in both
superficial veins and in
deep veins. Blood clots in the
deep veins of the legs require medical evaluation and treatment.
Skin Cancer, Nonmelanoma
What is skin cancer?
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. It destroys and replaces normal skin cells and tissues and, in some cases, can spread to other parts of the
body. Most skin cancers start in the outer layer of the skin (epidermis). About 97% of all skin cancer is nonmelanoma skin cancer.
More than 1 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed
in the United States each year.
What is Brain Cancer?
A cancer diagnosis can be frightening, but especially so when there's a tumor in the brain. While some types of brain cancer are less aggressive than others, they all have the potential to disrupt a person's thoughts,
memories, senses, personality, language abilities, and body control. And brain cancer can be life threatening, particularly if left untreated.
Also, a recent study accomplished in Iceland found female flight attendants who worked for 5 years or more were five times more likely to develop
breast cancer than those who had fewer years worked.
You're Not Alone! Join with Like-minded
Others on the Planet X Town Hall
DAVE: Does in-flight radiation exposure only cause cancers to flight crews and passengers?
BOB: Not only can it cause cancers, the radiation flight crews and
passengers are receiving could cause birth defects in their children as well.
According to another study by Professor Dudley Goodhead, from the U.K., states that ions can cause genetic mutations in human egg cells and
sperm cells, and can damage a fetus. Professor Goodhead has also found that ionizing radiation can produce a wide spectrum of damage to
DNA, breaking single and double strands of its double-helix structure.
Aviation Health Institute, 24-December-2003
According to a study by Dudley Goodhead, who runs one of the world's leading radiation and genome stability units, ions can cause genetic mutations in human egg
cells and sperm cells, and can damage a developing fetus.
DAVE: That's fascinating. It appears that the future doesn't look promising for the flight crews and the passengers.
BOB: Your right, it doesn't. The future looks even more grim, given the
increasing amounts of radiation received during a solar storm, especially during our record breaking solar activity we're currently experiencing.
DAVE: Do the flight crews of global carriers know about this, and are they concerned about flying at high altitudes?
BOB: Of course they know and yes they're concerned. Because of this
and other related information, British Airways pilots are rejecting flight plans from London to North America that takes them above 35,000 feet.
They're opting to fly lower altitudes to avoid being overexposed to solar radiation.
British Airways pilots believe that airlines are understating the potential dangers to the public of exposure to the radiation exposure to save money
on fuel. British Airways management is not happy with this idea since lower altitudes do mean higher fuel expenses and longer flights mean more unhappy passengers.