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The jobs with the greatest cancer risks

The jobs with the greatest cancer risks
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Is your job making you sick? If it’s listed here, the answer might be yes. Here’s what you need to know – and how to protect yourself.

Flight attendant

Flight attendant
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It turns out that the skies aren’t all that friendly to flight attendants. One main reason, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Health, is that cabin crews are exposed to more ionising radiation at high altitudes, increasing the likelihood that they may develop a number of cancers, including those that affect the breast, cervix, uterus, thyroid, oesophagus, colon, stomach, liver and pancreas. Some additionally scary stats: The breast-cancer rate in female flight attendants is 50 percent higher than in women not in that field, while the non-melanoma skin cancer rate is four times higher.

Here are 34 things your parents’ health reveals about you. 

Airline pilot

Airline pilot
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Here’s a sentence you probably never thought you’d read: Cockpits are as dangerous for your skin as tanning beds. JAMA Dermatology reports that pilots and other crew members have double the rates of melanoma as ordinary people and that spending an hour in the cockpit exposes pilots to as much UVA radiation as spending 20 minutes in a tanning bed. UV radiation dangers can increase when flying over dense clouds or snow. While researchers have recommended that windshields with better UV protection be installed, pilots should also be vigilant about sunscreen application and skin-cancer checks.

Learn how to recognise melanoma. 

Welder

Welder
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Heating metals to very high temperatures can be incredibly dangerous for the 111 million people around the world who weld. The culprits are welding fumes, as well as exposure to radiation and asbestos, according to scientists at the International Agency for Research on Cancer. These toxins can potentially cause lung cancer, kidney cancer and melanoma of the eye, as well as other health problems. “Although public concern is most heightened in terms of cancer risk from workplace exposures, there’s a wide range of problems that can occur only many years after the start of exposure,” says Paul Blanc, MD, professor of medicine, division of occupational and environmental medicine, and the author of How Everyday Products Make People Sick. “This can include damage to the lungs, causing scarring, and damage to other internal organs, including the liver and kidneys.”

Learn about the latest developments in fighting lung cancer. 

Any desk job

Any desk job
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Yes, you read that right: Sitting too much at a desk can result in higher rates of colon and endometrial (uterine) cancers. According to German researchers, those who spend the most time sitting have a 24 percent higher risk of colon cancer and a 32 percent higher risk of endometrial cancer. And perhaps even more shocking, for every two additional hours you spend sitting, your risks go up by around 10 percent. Occasional gym time doesn’t mitigate these effects either, according to researchers. So what can you do? Get up and move a lot more frequently over the course of the day, especially after meals. A little regular movement may go a long way.

Here are 13 conditions you think you have – but probably don’t.

Manicurist

Manicurist
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Your perfectly polished nails can pose a serious health hazard to the nail technician who’s painting them. To be fair, it’s not only your manicure that does it but the dozens of others a technician performs each and every day. The workers absorb the toxic chemicals through the skin, and they inhale the fumes and contaminated dust in the salon, raising their risk of cancer and a host of respiratory and reproductive problems. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends nail salons be well ventilated and that workers wear long-sleeved shirts, gloves and even masks; they should also regularly wash their hands. To support these safety measures, make sure the salon you patronise protects their nail technicians.

Don’t miss these 41 strange symptoms that can signal a serious disease. 

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Farmer

Farmer
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The pesticides used on non-organic foods that we worry so much about are a much bigger problem for agricultural workers. According to the Agricultural Health Study (AHS), a decades-long research project conducted by various government groups including the National Cancer Institute and the EPA, farmers and their family members are diagnosed with certain cancers at higher-than-normal rates. These include leukaemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, multiple myeloma, soft tissue sarcoma, and stomach, brain, prostate and skin cancers. Pesticides may be one big cause, but the AHS also cites “engine exhaust, solvents, dust, animal viruses, fertilisers, fuels and specific microbes” as contributing factors. With these types of issues, says Dr Blanc, “damage can start to occur relatively soon after first exposure or after a number of years of cumulative exposure, but either way, it is often not until many years later that clinical illness becomes evident.”

Firefighter

Firefighter
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As if flames, smoke inhalation and building collapses weren’t enough to worry about, firefighters also face a significant cancer risk. In fact, cancer is the leading cause of death among firefighters. Why? When plastic, certain building materials and other everyday substances burn, they release toxins; firefighters inhale or absorb the toxins in the course of putting out the flames. According to a study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, firefighters have a modestly greater risk of developing cancer than the average person, but their risk for certain cancers doubles – namely, testicular cancer and mesothelioma, which is caused by asbestos exposure.

Learn the 12 diseases doctors can actually diagnose through smell. 

Night-shift worker

Night-shift worker
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Radiation and toxic chemicals aren’t the only things that can cause cancer. Believe it or not, disrupting your natural circadian rhythm by working under bright lights throughout the night can also increase your cancer risk. An MIT study reported: “Cells need the light cue, which is like a reset button for the clock. When you lose that cue, you lose the normal rhythms in every cell in your body.” As a result, a cancer-promoting protein called c-myc accumulates in cells, spurring tumour growth and development. Scientists are working on drugs that could target the light-sensitive genes and help protect night-shift employees.

These are some of the best ways to bounce back after cancer treatment.

Mine worker

Mine worker
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Mining is a dangerous business, with different types of mine work increasing the risk for different types of cancers. For example, coal-mining dust may increase workers’ risk for lung and stomach cancer, while other miners are more likely to come into contact with cancer-causing asbestos, uranium and radon. Another big problem is diesel exhaust from drilling equipment, which can build up in the shafts. One study found that underground workers who were regularly exposed to the exhaust were five times more likely to develop lung cancer than workers who weren’t around the fumes. If you think you’re in a dangerous situation in any profession, there is something you can do. “People have the legal right to know what materials they work with and what their hazards are by requiring access to material data sheets,” says Dr Blanc, who adds that having a workplace safety and health committee or union representation can help. “The National Institute for Safety and Health (NIOSH) will come out to workplaces and investigate if a request is made.”

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Philippines lockdown update:
Please be advised that due to the current lockdown in the Philippines, Reader’s Digest magazine May issue will not be available at its regular on-sale date to our subscribers or through our retail channels in that region. We hope to have the issues available in early June, but this is dependent on when the lockdown restrictions are lifted. We sincerely apologise for this inconvenience. Thank you and stay safe!
– The Reader’s Digest team