If you are or ever were a fighter pilot …

Apparently the US Air Force (USAF) has become concerned that being a fighter pilot may increase risk for a diagnosis of prostate cancer. For those who are interested, here’s a link to the relevant article on the McClatchy news service.

Your sitemaster has to say that the available data don’t seem to him to support any particular increase in risk for prostate cancer among USAF fighter pilots compared to any other group, and he knows of no good reason why being a fighter pilot would increase the risk of prostate cancer among this group of individuals as opposed to several other forms of cancer. It seems much more likely to your sitemaster that the currently available data have more to do with the slow but steady increase in awareness of prostate cancer as a risk for all males over 45, and the careful medical surveillance of all military personnel on an annual basis.

The only real way to be able to document an increase in risk for any form of cancer among fighter pilots as compared to the general male population (or other airplane pilots or other men in the USAF) would be to track the incidence of prostate cancer over time among all the relevant groups by year and by number of flight hours prior to diagnosis. Since prostate cancer is very rarely diagnosed until a man gets to his 50s, such tracking would have to be continued long after 95 percent (or more) of fighter pilots stop flying that type of aircraft.

For those of us who have never been fighter pilots, the good news is that this sort of military concern is one more reason for continuing support for the Department of Defense’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research program — and its Prostate Cancer Research Program in particular.

One Response

  1. Concur with Sitemaster

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