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Health issues for long haul flying

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paxman

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After a quick look around this site there does not seem be an arena for health discussions.

As alluded to in this thread travel, especially flying long distance is very stressfull on the human body. There are certain adrenal, hormonal support preperations that can be taken to assist the body with dealing with these stresses, some of you have mentioned one or more of these before. Would anybody be interested in such a discussion or a health resource section? The premature biological aging effect on flight crews has been quite well know for some time now, so should be of interest to those that know them on a first name basis.
 

JohnK

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I guess this started off in another thread, has been moved here and no further interest shown!

I would be interested to find out more information on how long haul travel affects those of us that do not travel as much as pilots/FA's. Is there anything to worry about?
 

HardieBoys

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There is limited evidence to support an increased risk of brain cancers in pilots compared to the general populations. Given the limited number of pilots and the rarity of brain cancers, this type of research is hard to do.

A review of Greek cockpit and cabin crew mortality (Paridou et al, 2003) showed that there were non-significant (that is, not statistically different from chance alone) increases in brain cancer and liver cancer, overall, cockpit and cabin crew had a lower risk of dying from cancer than the general population, due to a markedly lower risk of death from lung cancer.

A study of over 10 000 Nordic male airline pilots (Pukkala et al, 2002) showed a statistically significant increase in a number of skin cancers, including melanoma and basal cell carcinoma, with increased radiation exposure being related to increased risk. There was an increased risk in prostate carcinoma. The authors suggested that there might be a role for cosmic radition, but did not draw any firm conclusions on causality.

An earlier review of other studies of crew and pilots (Boice et al, 2000) did not conclude that there was any evidence that there was an increase in cancer and crew and pilots. It was noted, however, that pilots were generally healthy with an increased lifespan compared to average. It did draw the unsurprising conclusion that death from aircrashes was the most startling pattern of mortality in pilots.
 

NM

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And here was me thinking about the health risks of too much booze or too much airline food.
 

simongr

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I know my digestion is a little off a few days after travelling...
 

paxman

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thanks Simongr........ it's the smaller things like a dodgy tummy or a stinking cold or flu that can ruin your travel planes. As for pilots living longer, they are meant to be the pick of the genetic bunch to begin with, are they not?

happy to start a new resource for people wanting health info regarding the smaller stuff (read staying well whilst travelling), but as a techo geek novice I would need some hints getting started :confused: . As for bigger stuff like cancer that's better left to Doctors. There has been a fascinating study done post Chernoble(?) hypothosising that low level radiation may actually be harmless, however the effects are cumulative and flying does increase your overall exposure to the afore mentioned cosmic radiation which may prematurely age your body.
 

yo yo ma

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Sure is a lot of evidence around about DVT's (deep vein thrombosis) aka economy class syndrome. They are especially nasty if the blood clot breaks off the leg & travels to the lung (pulmonary embolus). Lots of easy exercises to do, which can help prevent a DVT... they are usually found in the in-flight magazines (if they airline doesn't want to get sued)!
 

straitman

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yo yo ma said:
Sure is a lot of evidence around about DVT's (deep vein thrombosis) aka economy class syndrome. They are especially nasty if the blood clot breaks off the leg & travels to the lung (pulmonary embolus). Lots of easy exercises to do, which can help prevent a DVT... they are usually found in the in-flight magazines (if they airline doesn't want to get sued)!
My company requires that we talk to a company Dr prior to any long haul flights. They offer compression stockings for those who feel the need etc.

The summary at the end of the conversation is that the problems are really no worse than for long car or bus trips and that there are no real proven links, just a lot of theories that may or may not be correct.

ie be sensible and move around every so often and keep up the liquids. (non alcoholic)
 
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straitman

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NM said:
And here was me thinking about the health risks of too much booze or too much airline food.
A different problem dependant upon whether you are a pilot or passenger. :oops:
 

serfty

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straitman said:
... The summary at the end of the conversation is that the problems are really no worse than for long car or bus trips and that there are no real proven links, just a lot of theories that amy or may not be correct. ...
Had a close friend get DVT from sitting in the Passenger seat of a car when travelling from Melbourne to Sydney for the Olympics; She is still walking with a limp.
 

simongr

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straitman said:
The summary at the end of the conversation is that the problems are really no worse than for long car or bus trips and that there are no real proven links, just a lot of theories that may or may not be correct.
I guess that mans they have covered the risk of mental health stress related illnesses from staff worrying whether they will get DVT... or is it used as a justification to put people in whY? If there are no health risks then no need to book into J ;)
 

yo yo ma

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straitman said:
The summary at the end of the conversation is that the problems are really no worse than for long car or bus trips and that there are no real proven links, just a lot of theories that amy or may not be correct.

ie be sensible and move around every so often and keep up the liquids. (non alcoholic)
Very true... Any extended periods of lying or sitting can lead to DVT. Other risk factors include:
  • Previous history of DVT
  • Family history of DVT
  • Overweight
  • Age over 40
  • Recent surgery
  • Major illness (eg cancer)
  • Major trauma (particularly orthopaedic or burns)
 

straitman

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simongr said:
I guess that mans they have covered the risk of mental health stress related illnesses from staff worrying whether they will get DVT... or is it used as a justification to put people in whY? If there are no health risks then no need to book into J ;)
Definitely not.

In our company 'J' is used for long haul and 'Y' is used for short haul. Productivity has a lot to do with this also :!:

The discussion definitely centres around supplying the individual with the 'facts' and letting the individual make their own informed decision.
 

NM

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And I work on the theory that alcohol thins the blood and reduces the risk of clots forming. Now my science may be completely wrong and unfounded. However, I always drink more water than anything else, which has two benefits. It reduces the dehydrating effect of the low humidity in the cabin and of the alcohol, and means I am regularly making trips to create more bladder space to allow more water consumption. Those regular trips mean my legs get plenty of exercise and I don't sleep in a cramped position for long periods.

But I do recognise that alcohol on its own (without the copious volumes of re-hydrating water and associated toilets visits) is not a good way to travel. I don't sleep well anyway on a plane, so might as well be making multiple toilet breaks anyway.
 

straitman

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NM said:
And I work on the theory that alcohol thins the blood and reduces the risk of clots forming. Now my science may be completely wrong and unfounded. However, I always drink more water than anything else, which has two benefits. It reduces the dehydrating effect of the low humidity in the cabin and of the alcohol, and means I am regularly making trips to create more bladder space to allow more water consumption. Those regular trips mean my legs get plenty of exercise and I don't sleep in a cramped position for long periods.

But I do recognise that alcohol on its own (without the copious volumes of re-hydrating water and associated toilets visits) is not a good way to travel. I don't sleep well anyway on a plane, so might as well be making multiple toilet breaks anyway.
I'll drink to that.

;) :D :rolleyes: :D :idea: :mrgreen:
 

rhjames

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simongr said:
I guess that mans they have covered the risk of mental health stress related illnesses from staff worrying whether they will get DVT... or is it used as a justification to put people in whY? If there are no health risks then no need to book into J ;)
I'm one person who copped an apparent DVT after flying from Sydney to Turkey and back for 2 days. I am a fitness instructor, flew business class, exercised during the flights regularly (favourite spot at the top of the stairs, walking the length of the plane etc). Drank minimum alcohol (some wine with dinner). First symptoms were pain and feeling cold in the lounge (via Hong Kong). Hong Kong to Sydney over night I had to sit upright to survive the pain, and was on the edge of not getting enough air because my depth of breathing was limited due to the pain. (Could have asked for oxygen)

Diagnosed as minor blood clot (slightly elevated D-dimer test), I was on Warfarin for a few months (pain cleared in a few days - never actually found a blood clot with ultrasound, but small lung abnormality was shown. No abnormality in blood clotting.

I did a lot of research on this. I believe that, unlike long bus trips, flying is at reduced pressure, which may create different circumstances. I figure that if it can happen to me it can happen to anyone.

Now on long haul flights (eg 12 hours plus), which I do regularly, I give myself a clexane injection (and avoid shaving during the flight). Easy, and never had a problem since. I don't want to go through that again. Some people pop an asprin, or other known anti-coagulant (blood thinners, though this isn't what actually happens). I'm happy to pass on any further information if anyone's interested.

It would be interesting to hear from medical people who have some knowledge of this.
 
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