Secondhand tobacco smoke (SHTS) is a tremendous public health hazard, leading to morbidity and premature mortality worldwide, with racial and ethnic minorities and those of lower socioeconomic status disproportionately affected. Flight attendants were historically exposed to high levels of SHTS in the aircraft cabin. The health effects of active smoking are known to persist for up to a lifetime, but the legacy effects of SHTS exposure have not been well characterized.
Flight Attendants and conditions caused by secondhand tobacco smoke exposure
Elisabete Weiderpass, Margrethe Meo, and Harri Vainio
The knowledge on the etiology of breast cancer has advanced substantially in recent years, and several etiological factors are now firmly established. However, very few new discoveries have been made in relation to occupational risk factors. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has evaluated over 900 different exposures or agents to-date to determine whether they are carcinogenic to humans. These evaluations are published as a series of Monographs (www.iarc.fr). For breast cancer the following substances have been classified as “carcinogenic to humans” (Group 1): alcoholic beverages, exposure to diethylstilbestrol, estrogen-progestogen contraceptives, estrogen-progestogen hormone replacement therapy and exposure to X-radiation and gamma-radiation (in special populations such as atomic bomb survivors, medical patients, and in-utero exposure). Ethylene oxide is also classified as a Group 1 carcinogen, although the evidence for carcinogenicity in epidemiologic studies, and specifically for the human breast, is limited. The classification “probably carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2A) includes estrogen hormone replacement therapy, tobacco smoking, and shift work involving circadian disruption, including work as a flight attendant. If the association between shift work and breast cancer, the most common female cancer, is confirmed, shift work could become the leading cause of occupational cancer in women.
Alexis L Beatty, Thaddeus J Haight, and Rita F Redberg
Secondhand tobacco smoke (SHS) is associated with increased risk of respiratory illness, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Prior to smoking bans on airlines in the late 1980s, flight attendants were exposed to a significant amount of SHS. In the present study, we examine associations between flight attendant SHS exposure and development of respiratory illnesses and cardiovascular disease.Methods:
Between December 2006 and October 2010, three hundred sixty-two flight attendants completed an online questionnaire with information regarding experience as a flight attendant, medical history, smoking history, and SHS exposure. Rates of illnesses in flight attendants were compared with an age and smoking history matched population sample from NHANES 2005-2006. Logistic regression analysis was used to examine the association of reported medical conditions and pre-ban years of exposure.Results:
Compared with the sample from NHANES 2005-2006, flight attendants had increased prevalence of chronic bronchitis (11.7% vs. 7.2%, p < 0.05), emphysema/COPD (3.2% vs. 0.9%, p < 0.03), and sinus problems (31.5% vs. 20.9%, p < 0.002), despite a lower prevalence of medical illnesses including high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart failure, cancer, and thyroid disease. Amongst flight attendants who reported never smoking over their lifetimes, there was not a significant association between years of service as a flight attendant in the pre-smoking ban era and illnesses. However, in this same group, there was a significantly increased risk of daily symptoms (vs. no symptoms) of nasal congestion, throat, or eye irritation per 10-year increase of years of service as a flight attendant prior to the smoking ban (OR 2.14, 95% CI 1.41 – 3.24).
David F. Yankelevitz, Claudia I. Henschke, Rowena Yip, Paolo Boffetta, Joseph Shemesh, Matthew D. Cham, Jagat Narula, Harvey S. Hecht
An association between SHTS and CAC was recently reported in a single study, but the quantitative aspects of the relationship are not known.Methods:
A cohort of 3,098 never smokers 40 to 80 years of age, enrolled in the FAMRI-IELCAP (Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute International Early Lung Cancer Action Program) screening program, completed a SHTS questionnaire, and had a low-dose nongated computed tomography scan. The questionnaire provided a quantitative score for total SHTS exposure, as well as separately as a child and as an adult at home and at work; 4 categories of exposure to SHTS were identified (minimal, low, moderate, and high exposure). CAC was graded using a previously validated ordinal scale score that ranged from 0 to 12. Logistic regression analysis of the prevalence and ordered logistic regression analysis of the extent of CAC were performed to assess the independent contribution of SHTS adjusted for age, sex, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, and renal disease. Linear and quadratic regression analyses of CAC and SHTS were performed.Results:
The prevalence of CAC was 24.3% (n �� 754) and was significantly higher in those with more than minimal SHTS exposure compared with those with minimal SHTS exposure (26.4% vs. 18.5%, p �� 0.0001). The adjusted odds ratios for CAC prevalence were 1.54 (95% confidence interval: 1.17 to 2.20) for low SHTS exposure, 1.60 (95% confidence interval: 1.21 to 2.10) for moderate exposure, and 1.93 (95% confidence interval: 1.49 to 2.51) for high exposure. The association of the extent of SHTS with the extent of CAC was confirmed by the adjusted odds ratio (p �� 0.0001).
Frances A. Stillman, Andrea Soong , Laura Y. Zheng, and Ana Navas-Acien
|Our objective was to provide descriptive data on flight attendant secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure in the work environment, and to examine attitudes toward SHS exposure, personal health, and smoke-free policy in the workplace and public places. Flight attendants completed a web-based survey of self-reported SHS exposure and air quality in the work environment. We assessed the frequency and duration of SHS exposure in distinct areas of the workplace, attitudes toward SHS exposure and its health effects, and attitudes toward smoke-free policy in the workplace as well as general public places. A total of 723 flight attendants participated in the survey, and 591 responded to all survey questions. The mean level of exposure per flight attendant over the past month was 249 min. The majority of participants reported being exposed to SHS always/often in outdoor areas of an airport (57.7%). Participants who worked before the in-flight smoking ban (n=240) were more likely to support further smoking policies in airports compared to participants who were employed after the ban (n=346) (76.7% versus 60.4%, p-value<0.01). Flight attendants are still being exposed to SHS in the workplace, sometimes at concerning levels during the non-flight portions of their travel. Flight attendants favor smoke-free policies and want to see further restrictions in airports and public places.
Peter Payne1*, Steven Fiering1, James C. Leiter2, David T. Zava3 and Mardi A. Crane-Godreau 1*
This single-arm non-randomized pilot study explores an intervention to improve the health of flight attendants (FA) exposed to second-hand cigarette smoke prior to the smoking ban on commercial airlines. This group exhibits an unusual pattern of long-term pulmonary dysfunction. We report on Phase I of a two-phase clinical trial; the second Phase will be a randomized controlled trial testing digital delivery of the intervention. Subjects were recruited in the Northeastern US; testing and intervention were administered in 4 major cities. The intervention involved 12 h of training in Meditative Movement practices. Based on recent research on the effects of nicotine on fear learning, and the influence of the autonomic nervous system on immune function, our hypothesis was that this training would improve autonomic function and thus benefit a range of health measures. Primary outcomes were the 6-min walk test and blood levels of C-reactive protein. Pulmonary, cardiovascular, autonomic, and affective measures were also taken. Fourteen participants completed the training and post-testing. There was a 53% decrease in high sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (p ≤ 0.05), a 7% reduction in systolic blood pressure (p ≤ 0.05), a 13% increase in the 6-min walk test (p ≤ 0.005), and significant positive changes in several other outcomes. These results tend to confirm the hypothesized benefits of MM training for this population, and indicate that autonomic function may be important in the etiology and treatment of their symptoms. No adverse effects were reported. This trial is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov and is supported by a grant from the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute (FAMRI).
Our objective was to provide descriptive data on flight attendant secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure in the work environment, and to examine attitudes toward SHS exposure, personal health, and smoke-free policy in the workplace and public places. Flight attendants completed a web-based survey of self-reported SHS exposure and air quality in the work environment. We assessed the frequency and duration of SHS exposure in distinct areas of the workplace, attitudes toward SHS exposure and its health effects, and attitudes toward smoke-free policy in the workplace as well as general public places. A total of 723 flight attendants participated in the survey, and 591 responded to all survey questions. The mean level of exposure per flight attendant over the past month was 249 min. The majority of participants reported being exposed to SHS always/often in outdoor areas of an airport (57.7%). Participants who worked before the in-flight smoking ban (n=240) were more likely to support further smoking policies in airports compared to participants who were employed after the ban (n=346) (76.7% versus 60.4%, p-value<0.01). Flight attendants are still being exposed to SHS in the workplace, sometimes at concerning levels during the non-flight portions of their travel. Flight attendants favor smoke-free policies and want to see further restrictions in airports and public places.
A history of second hand smoke exposure:
are we asking the right questions?
The 2006 Surgeon General’s Report, “Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke” (Surgeon General, 2006) documents the health implications of exposure to SHS, including firm evidence that SHS contributes to coronary and lung disease, lung can- cer, premature death in adults, slow lung development, SIDS, asthma, and ear infections in children, as well as suggestive evidence that implicate SHS in COPD, asthma, breast cancer, and nasal sinus cancer in adults, and leukemia, lymphoma, and brain tumors in children. The report indicates that there is no risk-free level of SHS. Despite evidence that SHS is a risk factor for disease, most healthcare orga- nizations and many physicians fail to ask patients about their history of SHS exposure. The implications of that failure are considerable because knowledge of a patient’s history of SHS exposure enables providers to make better-informed decisions about what to include in each patient’s examination and lab tests, and how to conduct longterm monitoring, as well as alerting the patient to the need for measures to help them avoid further smoke exposure.
Mehrdad Arjomandi, MD 1,3,4, Thaddeus Haight, MA 5, Rita Redberg, MD 1,3, and Warren M Gold, MD 1,2,3
1 UCSF FAMRI Center of Excellence, University of California, San Francisco
2 Cardiovascular Research Institute, University of California, San Francisco
3 Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco
4 San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, University of California Berkeley, California
5 School of Public Health, University of California Berkeley, California
Objective: To determine whether the flight attendants who were exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke (SHS) in the aircraft cabin have abnormal pulmonary function.
Methods: We administered questionnaires and performed pulmonary function testing in 61 neversmoking female flight attendants who worked in active air crews before the smoking ban on commercial aircraft (pre-ban).
Results: While the pre-ban flight attendants had normal FVC, FEV1, and FEV1/FVC ratio, they had significantly decreased flow at mid- and low-lung volumes, curvilinear flow-volume curves, and evidence of air trapping. Furthermore, the flight attendants had significantly decreased diffusing capacity (77.5±11.2 %predicted normal) with 51% having a diffusing capacity below their 95% normal prediction limit.
Conclusions: This cohort of healthy never-smoking flight attendants who were exposed to SHS in the aircraft cabin showed pulmonary function abnormalities suggestive of airway obstruction and impaired diffusion.
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