Sickly Seafarers

Last August we carried a brief report on a study by the UK office of National Statistics that showed that seafarers were the second mostly likely group to die of alcohol-related diseases, now fellow maritime blogista MarineBuzz has tracked down more reports on seafarer health.

A 2006 issue of Japan’s Journal of Marine Medicine published a paper based on questionnaire responses by 179 seafarers of 60 per cent of those who worked on passenger ships drank regularly and 56.8 smoked, most of whom were under 44.

Of particular interest was a paper by researchers at Denmark’s Institute Of Maritime Medicine which found that female seafarers tended to adopt the same high-risk lifestyle as their male counterparts. Says the report: “…female seafarers entering traditional male jobs had a high risk of fatal accidents, not only at sea but also ashore. An excess risk of dying of lung cancer and heart diseases probably reflects a high tobacco consumption. Female seafarers are probably influenced by their occupation towards hazardous behaviour and a high risk lifestyle but people with a high risk lifestyle may also be attracted by or forced into high risk jobs such as traditional male jobs at sea.”

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