US fighter pilots up to 30% more likely to suffer from testicular, skin & prostate cancer, bombshell study finds

US fighter pilots and their crew members are far more likely to be diagnosed with testicular, skin and prostate cancer, a bombshell study has found.

The huge investigation looked at the medical histories of every pilot who had recorded more than 100 flight hours in a US Air Force fighter jet from 1970 to 2004. 


Researchers compared former pilots’ cancer rates to cancer rates among their non-flying Air Force colleagues and the general population.

Conducted by the Air Force Research Laboratory’s 711th Human Performance Wing, the study found fighter pilots and their crew were 29 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with testicular cancer than their non-flying comrades.

They were also 24 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma, and 23 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer, Defense One reports.

And when compared to the general US population, pilots were 13 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, 25 per cent more likely to be develop melanoma, and 19 per cent more likely to get prostate cancer.

Major Brian Huggins, a preventive medicine consultant with the 711th Wing, urged current and former fighter pilots to discuss "lifestyle approaches to cancer prevention, and screening for melanoma skin and prostate cancers".

Earlier studies already found cancer clusters among F-15E Strike Eagle and C-130 aircrews – but the new study didn't single out those aircraft.

However, researchers found an alarming link between the Vietnam-era F-100 Super Sabre, the nation’s first supersonic warplane, and higher cancer rates.

The study said: "Male fighter aviators who flew the F-100 had greater odds of being diagnosed and dying from colon and rectum cancer, pancreas cancer, melanoma skin cancer, prostate cancer, and brain cancer.

"They also had greater odds of being diagnosed and dying from thyroid cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, despite similar odds of diagnosis."

Crews who flew the F-105 and F-4 also developed higher rates of testicular, melanoma, and prostate cancer. 

Some former pilots have long suspected cockpit radiation generated by powerful radars may be linked to their cancers.

Air Force fighter pilots had been calling for years for the military to examine the potential causes of cancer among officers.

The study might be replicated by the Navy for its aviators depending on what the results reveal, Task and Purpose reports.

"It’s important to all of us that we get the ground truth on just what’s going on," Air Force Chief of Staff, General David Goldfein, said last year.

A review by the Defense Health Agency is also underway to look at rates of cancer across all military branches, not just the Air Force.

Initial results are expected to be published by the end of the year, according to Senator Dianne Feinstein's spokesman.

In 2019, an investigation found the rate of treatment for Air Force prostate cancers at Veterans Affairs health care facilities had increased 44 per cent since 2000.

Urinary cancer treatment rates, include kidney, bladder and ureter cancers, also increased 80 per cent.

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