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Leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma mortality (1950–1999) and incidence (1969–1999) in the Eldorado uranium workers cohort

Abstract of the article in Environmental Research 130 (2014)13-50

Rachel S.D. Lane, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
Patsy A. Thompson, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
Lydia B. Zablotska, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA
Stanley E. Frost, Frost & Frost Consultants, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan


Uranium workers are chronically exposed to low levels of radon and gamma radiation. The risk of leukemia from high doses of gamma radiation is well known, but the risk of leukemia from low doses of gamma radiation and from radon exposures are controversial. Few studies have evaluated risks of other hematologic cancers (blood, lymph node and bone marrow cancers) in uranium workers. This study took an in-depth look at the occurrence of these cancers in Eldorado uranium workers, who were occupationally exposed to low doses of radon and gamma radiation.

By 1999, 101 deaths and 160 cases of hematologic cancers were identified through the long-term follow-up of mortality (1950-1999) and cancer incidence (1969-1999) data. Overall, male workers had lower mortality and cancer incidence rates for all outcomes compared with the general Canadian male population. The study found no relationship between low radon exposures and the incidence of leukemia, lymphoma and bone marrow cancers in uranium miners.

Statistically non-significant increases in the risk of some leukemias and lymphomas with increasing gamma dose were found. Future research is needed to understand the potential risks of low dose gamma radiation.

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