- Some jobs come with more health risks than others.
- Exposure to carcinogenic toxins such as formaldehyde, arsenic, and carbon monoxide is common in some occupations.
- We rounded up 10 commonly held jobs that may be linked to a higher risk of cancer.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Many jobs can be hazardous to your health. Some occupations, such as coal mining and firefighting, come with well known risks of disease or bodily harm. Other jobs may seem safe, but can still pose a risk to your overall health if they expose you to hazardous materials.
However, by understanding the dangers and taking preventative measures to mitigate risk, workers can lower their chances of disease.
Here are 10 commonly held jobs that can be associated with a higher risk of cancer.
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According to an analysis published in the journal JAMA Dermatology, pilots can be exposed to higher-than-average levels of UV radiation on the job. Exposure to UV radiation is known to increase one’s risk of skin cancer. Sitting for an hour in the cockpit of a plane in flight can expose the skin to the same amount of UVA radiation as using a tanning bed for 20 minutes, that study found.
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Lifeguards can also suffer skin damage on the job. The World Health Organization (WHO) has found that the sun’s UV rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. During those hours, the organization recommends people limit sun exposure and liberally apply sunscreen of at least SPF 15.
The Los Angeles County Lifeguard Association, which represented 120 full-time and 600 part-time lifeguards at the time, implemented programs in the 1990s to screen for skin cancer among its employees following the death of one lifeguard due to melanoma, the Los Angeles Times reported. Los Angeles County Lifeguards still hold an annual fundraiser to raise money and awareness for breast and skin cancer, which they say has had an impact on their personnel.
Any desk job
If you’re among the 86% of American workers who work at a desk all day, your job may have an adverse effect on your health. A 2009 study found that people who had increased sitting times had higher rates of cancer and overall mortality, even when they got some daily exercise.
The American Cancer Society has also found a link between long periods of inactivity and cancer. The group says that people who spend "prolonged leisure time sitting" — defined as more than 6 hours per day — have a 19% higher rate of death compared to people who sit an average of 3 hours per day. That number includes all causes of death, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that sitting directly causes cancer or other diseases, since sick people are also likely to move around less.
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