Research carried out by Leif Åge Strand at the Cancer Registry of Norway regarding cancer and causes of death among officers and enlisted personnel who have served in the Royal Norwegian Navy after 1950 shows that the group has a lower mortality from illness than the general population, excluding cancer, where the risks are the same. The incidence is, however, somewhat increased.
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A military career involves adhering to strict disciplinary systems, handling of weapons and potentially dangerous machines and serving in distant places separated from the family. This should give good reasons to believe led to a great potential for accidents. Reports, in foreign navies, regarding a large intake of alcohol have also led to increased focus on violent deaths, deaths from alcohol related illnesses such as cirrhosis, alcohol psychoses and incidence of alcohol related cancer in this group.
A study done by Leif Åge Strand at the Cancer Registry of Norway of somewhat under 30 000 navy employees from 1950 to the present shows that this is not the case. Mortality, in total, was 16 per cent lower than the general Norwegian male population, in other words they live a little longer. This can be explained by the selection done based on physical and mental health at recruitment for duty and officer education and also regular physical tests and health controls during service.
Cancer incidence was, however, increased 6 per cent, first and foremost due to increased incidence of prostate and skin cancer.
The incidence of violent deaths (accidents, suicide) was 36 per cent lower than expected.
Mortality and cancer incidence was, in general, higher among sailors than land based personnel. No increased risk of alcohol related cancers or mortality was found for the cohort as a whole, but a higher risk was found among those serving aboard the vessels than for land based personnel.