Military pilots are getting acknowledgement that they are at higher risk of certain types of cancer, according to the most comprehensive military study to date. The 2021 study, “Cancer Incidence and Mortality Among Fighter Aviators,” was conducted by the Air Force Research Laboratory’s 711th Human Performance Wing and tracked airmen who had recorded more than 100 flight hours in an Air Force fighter aircraft from 1970 to 2004.
The study found that fighter pilots and their crew were 29 percent more likely to be diagnosed with testicular cancer, 24 percent more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma, and 23 percent more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than their non-fighter pilot peers. Further, when compared to the general U.S. population, fighter aviators were 13 percent more likely to be diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, 25 percent more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma, and 19 percent more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer.
The study encouraged current and former fighter aviators to discuss this report with their flight surgeon or primary care provider, including such topics as ultraviolet radiation protection and its impact on Vitamin D, lifestyle approaches to cancer prevention, and screening for melanoma skin and prostate cancers.
A larger, Congressionally-directed cancer review is underway, run by the Defense Health Agency. While this study does not indicate that these cancers will lead to presumptive VA disability benefits, it is something to keep an eye on.
If you have questions about VA disability benefits, please contact the experienced Veterans’ disability attorneys at Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. today for a free case evaluation. Gardberg & Kemmerly serves Veterans across the United States from their home office in Mobile, Alabama. Please feel free to call the office at 251-343-1111 or 1-800-332-1529 for a free consultation.