Former U.S. Naval Fighter Pilots Blame Radiation Exposure for Causing Cancer and Deaths
By B.N. Frank
It’s horrible that this is happening to our service people – even worse when it may have been prevented.
In 1971, the U.S. Naval Medical Research Institute had already determined that exposure to non-ionizing radiation (more commonly referred to as cell phone radiation and WiFi) was harmful. More research conducted since then has determined the same – some of it funded by the American government.
Former Air Force and Navy fighter pilots are calling on the military to begin cancer screenings for aviators as young as 30 because of an increase in deaths from the disease that they suspect may be tied to radiation emitted in the cockpit.
“We are dropping like flies in our 50s from aggressive cancers,” said retired Air Force Col. Eric Nelson, a former F-15E Strike Eagle weapons officer. He cited prostate and esophageal cancers, lymphoma, and glioblastomas that have struck fellow pilots he knew, commanded or flew with.
Nelson’s prostate cancer was first detected at age 48, just three months after he retired from the Air Force. In his career he has more than 2,600 flying hours, including commanding the 455th Air Expeditionary Group in Bagram, Afghanistan, and as commander of six squadrons of F-15E fighter jets at the 4th Operations Group at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina.
Last month McClatchy reported on a new Air Force study that reviewed the risk for prostate cancers among its fighter pilots and new Veterans Health Administration data showing that the rate of reported cases of prostate cancers per year among veterans using the VA health care system across all services has risen almost 16% since fiscal year 2000.
The Air Force study also looked at cockpit exposure, finding that “pilots have greater environmental exposure to ultraviolet and ionizing radiation … (fighter pilots) have unique intra-cockpit exposures to non-ionizing radiation.”
Retired Navy Cmdr. Thomas Hill was a career F-4 and F-14 pilot and squadron commanding officer with more than 3,600 flight hours and more than 960 aircraft carrier landings. Hill was 52 when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. In December 2011, at age 60, he learned he also had esophageal cancer.
Hill has spent the last two years tracking premature deaths or cancers among former commanding officers of F-14 squadrons. So far he’s found more than a dozen who have either been diagnosed or have died from the disease.