As a Flight Attendant with an erratic schedule I am always conscious about keeping healthy. The new cry out there by the general public is the use of body scanners that emit radiation doses. What people really don’t know is the health risk that flying itself gives. Flying gives you more radiation exposure than the body scanners ever will. Two minutes flying at 30,000 feet will give you as much radiation as a body scan! And by the time you are at a normal cruising altitude of 39,000 feet the total radiation is much greater than what it is at sea level. Flying in the upper thinner portion of the atmosphere increases your radiation exposure and doubles with every 6,000 feet of altitude!
For people who don’t fly that much I don’t think this is a concern and remember you can always opt out of the body scanner which is your right. But this can put you at the mercy of a full body pat down, which can be a very unpleasant experience. But for Frequent Flyers and Flight Crews who fly commercial airlines at high altitudes, we are subjected to higher than normal radiation levels from the sun and cosmic rays. And in the event of a solar flare radiation is even worse. This raises a real health risk because we are exposed to more radiation than any other occupation out there!
It is amazing to me why our employers do not educate us about this risk. European carriers make it mandatory that Flight Crews be educated about cosmic radiation. And also I wonder why we are not monitored as most health professionals who frequently deliver x-rays and cancer treatments. It only takes about six or seven trips from New York to Narita Japan to exceed the general public limits. That is more than any health professional gets that delivers x-rays!
Everyone is exposed to some radiation every day. Cosmic radiation which comes from the sun is a form of Ionizing radiation; charged particles that go through our bodies all the time which unbalance us. But we are protected by most of them because the earth’s atmosphere absorbs much of this and deflects them before they reach us. So the higher you are the less atmosphere to protect you. And too much exposure can lead to tissue and genetic damage that cause cancer and other diseases.
We are all aware that the sun’s ultraviolet radiation can damage skin cells which may lead to skin cancers, but at a high energy it becomes ionizing radiation which can lead to chemical reactions inside cells and break DNA chains which mutate the cells and become cancerous. If it occurs in a sperm or egg it can result in birth defects which is why pregnant women should never be subjected to x-rays.
There is a tremendous amount of evidence that female flight attendants have higher rates of breast cancer then the rest of the population. We also must take into consideration that our life style of constantly crossing time zones can throw off our hormones, messes with our serotonin and dopamine which can also play a big part in causing cancer.
Luckily for most flight personnel, we don’t have to go through the body scanners because who wants that additional dose of radiation… But our Frequent Flyers are not so lucky. Although the machines they say are a very low level and not like an X-ray at all, experts claim the machines are not harmful. I believe it’s still too early to tell.
But although we are not going through the body scanners we are still at a higher risk. Robert Barish who is a physicist and author of “The Invisible Passenger: Radiation Risks For People Who Fly” says crewmembers are exposing themselves to more radiation than almost any other occupation out there.
So how much flying is too much?
There are two organizations “The U.S. National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements” and the “International Commission on Radiological Protection”. They both have established the radiation tolerance for air crews and the general public. A week’s worth of natural background radiation is about 2.4 mSv a year. The group goes on to say that one single long international flight will expose you to a weeks’ worth of natural background radiation. But airline employees definitely exceed the groups recommend limits.
What can we do? Well we certainly cannot quit or stop flying, first it’s just what we do, its our job and second its the way the general public gets around. But the price to pay could be our health. So how can we protect our health?
Since I obviously travel regularly here is what I do to keep my health while flying and being exposed to radiation. Remember the highest mountain in the world is 28,000 feet yet most of us think nothing of spending hours at 35,000 feet, an altitude that we humans were never designed to be exposed to. And in addition to radiation exposure while flying, radiation and radioactivity are everywhere, in the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. Our toxic overload just keeps getting greater.
- Cleansing – We can bind radioactive particles and flush them out of our bodies. If not they will stay there and slowly work at destroying your health. We will succumb to unexplained symptoms of fatigue, weekend immune system and all sorts of conditions and diseases. Cleansing has been around for centuries. There are many cleanses out there, so be careful in choosing the right one.
- Regular Checkups – Because of the hazards of frequently flying regular checkups can catch problems early.
- Baths to soak in at home to pull out all the accumulations of toxins in our body. This accumulated waste can impair our lymph system which relies on physical movement and sweating to rid itself of waste. Soaking in alkaline water will help rebalance your body’s internal ph and relieve cellular inflammation.
Salt and Soda soak – The best bath to soak in is 2 cups of dead sea salt, kosher salt and 2 cups of baking soda. Add to bath water when 2/3 full and let it dissolve before entering.
Seaweed bath soak – Seaweed has a strong and powerful ionic charge that draws toxins out of bodily cells. You can purchase seaweed soaks at your local health food store, or right here at the Health Hub – Bath Salts and Soaks.
Epsom Salt Soak – This is my favorite because the magnesium in Epsom salt brings relief to stress and tension, so it’s the perfect soak after a long flight. Not only that but the magnesium assists in neutralizing and eliminating chemical toxins.
- Magnesium helps to eliminate absorbed radiation and toxins, a great source of magnesium are dark leafy vegetables.
- Foods rich in Pectin – Pectin binds to radioactive and chemical residues and removes them from the body. It acts as a natural chelating agent. Apples, guavas, plums, gooseberries, oranges and other citrus fruits. Be sure to wash all fruits. There is truth the the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”
- Flood your bodies with the nutrients it needs to safeguard your health. We need foods that will build up your immune system and help you recover from the damage caused by radiation exposure. We need food substances that will bind and flush contaminates right from your body. Health professionals have signified certain super greens and super fruits that infuse the body with phytonutrients to protect your health. Phytonutrients enhance your body’s natural detoxification pathways, which enable health and longevity. You might have heard of spirulina(one of the richest sources of vitamins, minerals, iron, protein and a host of other energizing and detoxifying nutrients) chlorella (which is a powerful detoxifier to safeguard against pollutants, chemicals and pesticides) and wheat grass,( contains dozens of minerals, including high concentrations of potassium, calcium, and magnesium) for example, which are super greens. Mangosteen, Star Fruit and Acai Berry are powerhouses of nutrition, too – which is why they’re called super fruits. These super foods can be your essential line of defense against environmental toxicity.
Fly when the sun is down. Most of the radiation is from the sun, so at night the earth is blocking most of it. You don’t get sunburned at night right? Well the same with radiation exposure. This may cost us some sleep, but for the frequent flyer it may be less expensive.
- Astaxanthin is a powerful fat soluble carotenoid that will protect your cells. Studies show that there is an improvement in people’s ability to tolerate sun exposure. It can be found in fish, seafood and algae. Life Extension a company I highly recommend also has Astaxanthin.
- Earthing/Grounding Pad – EMF’s and other electrical interference can disrupt your bodies bio-electrical communications causing weak electrical currents within your body. Wi-Fi only worsens the problem. Traveling on airplanes is a suspected cause of weakening bio-electric currents, as it disrupts the natural ground your body would receive when you’re connected naturally to the earth through your feet. An earthing pad, also known as a grounding pad is a great for your seat or jump seat. They are also ideal for your car. This can also be found in our Health Hub.
- Drink Water Not Soda – Sodas serve to synergistically worsen damage from radiation.
- Walk Around on Long Flights – This is a no brainer for us Flight Attendants. But passengers especially the elderly need to move or walk around. Being immobile on a plane increases the risk that blood clots will develop and then lodge in the lungs (pulmonary embolism). To reduce this risk, avoid alcohol, wear loose clothing and avoid crossing your legs. Of course we cannot have 230 people walking around the aircraft but for a certain few this is a necessity. It’s better than an medical emergency on the airplane.
- Eat Well and Avoid Junk Food – Unfortunately most of your options at hotels and airports are junk or processed foods. My advice is to avoid these altogether. This goes for the in flight meals that are nothing more than processed foods! Junk food is loaded with salt, sugar and will impair your immune system. The truth is that fasting is much better than eating junk food. Fasting does less to impair your body’s immune system. Pack your carry on with healthy snacks, choose organic raw almonds, healthy bars or protein shakes! Easy to do on the airplane and you will feel so much better. Choose carefully and make sure your snacks are organically based and not full of sugar.
- Antioxidants – Most of the damage from radiation exposure is from oxidative damage which can lead to cancers and illnesses. The best preventive measure is to increase antioxidants or “free radical scavengers” in your body.
In todays day and age, it is almost impossible to avoid toxicity in any form. So lets be vigilant with our health, flood our bodies with nutrients, cleanse and detox. Lets give our bodies a fighting chance and help it be the miracle it was meant to be.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.