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Representatives Kinzinger, Luria Introduce Bill to Study Incidence of Cancer Among Fighter Pilots

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Washington, February 12, 2020 | Maura Gillespie (202-225-3635) | comments
Today, Congressman Adam Kinzinger (IL-16) joined Congresswoman Elaine Luria (VA-02) in introducing the Military Pilot Cancer Incidence Study Act.
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WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Adam Kinzinger (IL-16) joined Congresswoman Elaine Luria (VA-02) in introducing the Military Pilot Cancer Incidence Study Act. This bipartisan bill would help the Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of Veterans Affairs fully understand the incidence of cancer diagnosis and mortality among pilots in the uniformed services in order to ensure access to quality preventative health care for servicemembers.

"When I joined the Air Force, I knew the risks that came with military service, especially flying in combat missions. What I didn’t realize then was the amount of radiation pilots are exposed to during that service," said Congressman Kinzinger. "As cancer rates climb among pilots in the Armed Forces, it’s imperative we get more information on this connection and come up with a resolution without degrading our military strength. I’m proud to introduce legislation with my colleague Rep. Luria as we work to determine these incidences. "Unfortunately, the data from the Air Force Study was not comprehensive. It did not cover all the services, nor did it explore other cancers that can be linked to radiation exposure in cockpits or at high altitudes."

Last summer, McClatchy reported on a new Air Force study about the risk of prostate cancers among fighter pilots. The study found that pilots have greater environmental exposure to ultraviolet and ionizing radiation. New VHA data also showed that rates of reported cases of prostate cancer among veterans using the VA health care system has risen almost 16% since fiscal year 2000 across all services.

"Anecdotal evidence of elevated cancer risks for military pilots is alarming," Congresswoman Luria said. "I am introducing the Military Pilot Cancer Incidence Study Act so DOD and the VA understand the scope of the problem, identify service-connected illnesses, and address them appropriately. We owe it to these brave service members to know what health risks they assume and ensure we screen and treat early so they live longer and healthier lives."

The Military Pilot Cancer Incidence Study Act would require DOD to enter into an agreement with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to study incidence and mortality rates of pilots from all services. This study would break down the data by age, gender, type of aircraft flown, and military service to analyze correlations between cockpit radiation exposure and cancer rates. It will also determine the appropriate age to begin screening pilots as young as 30 for different forms of cancer.

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