Common diseases less likely to kill nurses, study finds

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Risks from heart disease, stroke and certain cancers are much lower for registered nurses than for others, according to a report from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

The study, which followed nearly 60,000 RNs between 1974 and 2000, found that during that period of time, nurses were 39% less likely to die than those in the general population. They also had a lower risk of death from a number of specific causes. The full report can be found in the December 2007 issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

Nurses aren't immune to everything, however. Researchers also discovered a direct relation between the number of years spent as a nurse and the risk of contracting melanoma, a deadly type of skin cancer. Hospital nurses were found to be at a higher risk for lung cancer, they add. Exposure to radiation and certain drugs could play a key role, suggests report author Dr. Helen Dimich-Ward.