These include breast, uterine, gastrointestinal, thyroid and cervical cancer.
The Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health research was one of the largest and most comprehensive studies of cancer among the group to date.
Flight attendants had higher rates of all cancers investigated.
Out of 5,366 flight attendants who took part in the study, just over 15 percent reported ever having been diagnosed with cancer.
A flight attendant speaks to a captain.
"But we were surprised to replicate a recent finding that exposure to work as a flight attendant was related to breast cancer exclusively among women with three or more children", she said.
"Flight attendants are considered a historically understudied occupational group, so there is a lot we don't know about their health", says Mordukhovich.
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The researchers found that in female flight attendants, the rates of breast cancer were about 50 percent higher than in women from the general population.
Some 3.4 percent of the women who flew for a living had breast cancer, compared to 2.3 per cent in the general population. For instance, there are no official limits to the amount of cosmic ionizing radiation flight crews can be exposed to and their exposure is not monitored.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) lists circadian disruption and cosmic radiation as potential cancer causes.
(Other radiation workers have certain occupational safety regulations in place to protect them from exposure and restrict risky exposure.) The European Union regulates flight attendant schedules and flying time of pregnant flight attendants to limit potentially unsafe exposures.
The National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements reports that flight crews are exposed to the largest annual dose of radiation among US radiation workers. They also suffer disruption to the body clock through irregular and anti-social shift patterns and poor air quality. "We have known carcinogens that flight crews are exposed to, and we're hoping that this study allows people to start thinking about what should be done to implement protections". "We hope the study highlights issues about exposures that we know are problematic for flight attendants and pilots and aren't now being addressed".
Having three or more children-or none at all-was also a risk factor for breast cancer in female flight attendants.
Sun exposure, a leading risk factor for skin cancers, might also be higher for flight attendants because they might spend time in the sun on layovers, noted Dr. Alessandra Buja, of the University of Padova in Italy, in an email.