Study finds that fighter pilots are 30% more likely than their counterparts to develop testicular cancer, and have a higher chance of developing skin or prostatic cancer.

  • A study by the Air Force has shown that fighter pilots are at greater risk of certain cancers as their peers.
  • Fighter pilots are 29% more susceptible to testicular cancer, 24% less likely to develop melanoma, 23% more likely than those who fly fighter planes, and 23% less likely to get prostate cancer.
  • Ex-pilots, Air Force personnel and others have known for years that they are at higher risk for developing cancer. This study confirms that.
  • Although the reasons for an increase in cancer diagnoses cannot be determined yet, a deeper study may be in order. 

A study has found that Air Force fighter pilots are at greater risk for prostate and testicular cancers.

The Department of the Air Force published a huge study that included nearly 450,000 participants. It found that fighter pilots as well as weapons system officers were 29 per cent more likely have testicular cancer.

Although the findings are not surprising, many Air Force experts and insiders have seen an increase in these cases among Pilots. The findings confirm a worrying trend.

However, it is not possible to determine why pilots are at greater risk. 

A recent study by the Air Force finds that fighter pilots and weapons system officers are up to 30% more likely to develop some forms of cancer than their peers in the branch (file photo)

A recent Air Force study found that fighter pilots and officers in weapons systems are 30% more likely than their peers to develop cancer (file photo).

Major Brian Huggins, an Air Force preventive medicine consultant, stated that current and former fighter pilots are encouraged to discuss the report with their flight surgeons or primary care providers. Topics include ultraviolet radiation protection and its effect on vitamin D, lifestyle strategies to cancer prevention and screening for prostate and melanoma skin cancers. 

Researchers from the Air Force collected data from 34,679 fighter pilots, weapons system officers, and 411,998 non-flying airmen during the 30-year period 1970 to 2004.

The rates of certain cancers in the pilots were higher than those in the average U.S. citizen.

The pilots were 33% more likely not to be diagnosed as non-Hodgin Lymphoma, 25% more likely to develop melanoma, and 19% more likely to have prostate Cancer.

Many Air Force veterans have long known about the link between being an Air Force fighter pilot and certain cancers. The study confirms their beliefs, and they are pushing for further research into the causes of these cancer disparities (file photo)

Many Air Force veterans know for a fact that certain cancers can be linked to being a fighter pilot in the Air Force. They are now pushing for more research into these cancer disparities, as the study confirms their beliefs (file photo).

This study confirms the fact that pilots are at higher risk of developing cancer. However, it is the first step in understanding why. 

Former fighter pilots pushed Congress to do more to determine the causes of their cancer and how they can be protected.

“We’re about out of the era where ‘We think it deserves a study, we think that cancer incidence and mortality are higher in military aviators but no one is paying attention,” Vince Alcaza, Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association member, told Defense One.

“That was 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2019. This study is available in 2021. It’s a topic that the Air Force is very vocal about.

Pilots who flew Vietnam-era warplanes (specifically the F-100 Super Sabre) seemed to be at greatest risk.

The study found that people who flew Vietnam-era planes, and specifically the F-100 Super Sabre (pictured), were most at risk of developing cancer

The study revealed that those who flew Vietnam-era planes, including the F-100 Super Sabre (pictured), are most at risk of developing Cancer. 

Although many theories exist, it is unclear what the reason is for the higher cancer risk.

Some believe it could be because pilots are exposed to more radiation or ultraviolet rays while flying.

It could also be related to pilots inhaling chemicals or emissions while flying in or around planes.

Defense One reports that a second, more thorough study to determine the cause of cancer could be underway at Department of Defense.