The FA Health Study research team will be at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport February 6th – 8th. Please stop and say hello. We will tweet our locations in the terminals. Looking forward to connecting with you.
Come and visit us in Washington, Dulles Airport from October 22-24. We will be located in the United terminal.
Kathy Chaney was a champion of clean and safe air, free of tobacco smoke. She served as a board member of the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute (FAMRI) up to the time of her death. Her courage and spirit were an inspiration to all who knew her. She will be missed. Kathleen Cheney Obituary
Herdis Sveinsdo´ ttir1 RN, PhD (Professor), Ho´ lmfrı´ður Gunnarsdo´ ttir2 Msc, PhD (Senior Researcher) and
Hildur Friðriksdo´ ttir3 MS (Research Assistant)
1Faculty of Nursing, University of Iceland, 2Research Center for Occupational Health & Well-being, Administration of Occupational Safety &
Health and 3Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Iceland, Reykjavı´k, Iceland
Aim: The aim of this study was to describe and compare the self-assessed occupational health among female nurses, cabin crew and teachers, in relation to their working environment.
Background: Similarities between the three occupations, i.e. predominantly female and service-oriented, render them interesting in comparison with respect to health and working environment.
Methods: The participants were female Icelandic cabin crew, nurses and elementary school teachers. A questionnaire including items on socio-demographics, working environment (addressing work pace, job security, monotonous work, assistance, physically strenuous work and physical environmental factors) and a symptom list was used for data collection. Factor analyses on the symptom list resulted in five symptom scales: Musculoskeletal, Stress and exhaustion, Common cold, Gastrointestinal and Sound perception scale. A total of 1571 questionnaires were distributed. The response rate was 65.7–69%, depending on occupation. Data were collected in 2002.
Results: Cabin crew reported worse gastrointestinal, sound perception and common cold symptoms than nurses and teachers. Cabin crew and teachers reported worse symptoms of stress and exhaustion than nurses (p < 0.05). When compared with teachers and nurses cabin crew reported less job security and more physically strenuous and monotonous work. Nurses were likelier to seek assistance from co-workers or patients as well as to take care of an older relative than teachers and cabin crew. Regression analysis found that within each occupation distress from environmental factors resulted in higher score on all the
Conclusions: Nurses experience less stress and exhaustion than teachers and cabin crew. In comparison with one or both of the other occupations nurses are more likely to assist each other with their work, experience job security, reporting physically complex work and take care of older relatives. This should be highlighted as positive aspects of nurses’ work praised as displaying responsibility and interconnectedness of nurses’.
Beautiful bones, our structure, our frame. But those beautiful bones may be at risk of breaking if you are one of us who flew during the years when cigarette smoke was a near constant factor in aircraft cabins.
Osteoporosis (porous bones) leads to an increase risk of bone fractures. Beyond smoke exposure, individuals with a small frame (exacerbated by those horrid weight checks) may have an added risk of osteoporotic bone fractures.
Both lifestyle and medical options can help to maintain bone mass and indeed to rebuild those very necessary bones. For current and former flight attendants, here are tips that may help in keeping your bones strong.
- Talk to your health care provider about bone health. Make sure to discuss your occupational exposure to cigarette smoke and low body weight.
- Get a dexa-scan at least every two years.
- Vitamin D, actually a hormone, plays a crucial role in protecting and rebuilding bone. The Endocrine Society’s spokesperson, Dr. Michael Holick reported new guidelines for Vitamin D intake including that, a “tolerable upper limit of Vitamin D intake for everyone over 8 years of age is 4000 I.U.” Check your Vitamin D levels annually, best in winter. The Endocrine Society recommends that a healthy individual should maintain a level between 30 and 60 ng/mL. www.medscape.com article
- Mineral intake is crucial in staving off bone fractures. Calcium, magnesium and zinc are ALL required for healthy bones (1). Vitamin K may also play a key role. Supplements with balanced levels of these and other key vitamins and minerals are available at most stores that sell vitamins. http://www.jacn.org/content/19/6/715.long#sec-12
- The ratio of fatty acids in your diets seems to matter. Relative to Omega -6 fatty acids, an increased intake of Omega 3 fatty acids (the good fats found in cold water-fish: salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring) is associated with bone protection. Both Omega-3 & -6 can be found in other foods including in some cheeses like feta, especially from grass fed goats! http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/omega-3-000316.htm
- Weight bearing and resistance exercise are crucial in maintaining or regaining bone mass. Proficiency and practice of Tai Chi or QiGong reduce stress and are reportedly protective against bone loss. Exercise in general, and Tai Chi and QiGong in particular, are associated with increased strength and balance and are protective against falls.
- Be moderate in consumption of caffeine, salt and alcoholic beverages. High consumption is associated with weaker bones.
- Stay attentive to the state of your bones. Bone fractures are not just a matter of pain and inconvenience. They can be debilitating.
Osteoporosis is not inevitable. Take care of those beautiful bones!
By Mardi Crane-Godreau, Ph.D.
Mardi Crane-Godreau was a Pan Am Flight Attendant from 1967 to 1985. She is now a faculty member at Dartmouth Medical School.
Flight Attendants Making a Difference: The Kathie Cheney Story
In this compelling video produced by the Georgia Alliance for Tobacco Prevention, former flight attendant Kathie Cheney describes her experience on smoke-filled flights, her diagnosis with “smokers’ throat” and subsequent surgery.