Low radon exposures and lung cancer risk: joint analysis of the Czech, French, and Beaverlodge cohorts of uranium miners
Abstract of the journal article published in International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
Date of publication: January 23, 2019
Rachel S. D. Lane
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
Ladislav Tomášek, Lydia B. Zablotska, Estelle Rage, Franco Momoli, Julian Little
It is well established that high radon exposures increase the risk of lung cancer mortality. The effects of low occupational exposures and the factors that confound and modify this risk are not clear and are needed to inform current radiation protection of miners. The risk of lung cancer mortality at low radon exposures (< 100 working-level months) was assessed in the joint cohort analysis of Czech, French, and Canadian uranium miners, employed in 1953 or later. Statistical analysis was based on linear Poisson regression modeling with grouped cohort survival data. Two sensitivity analyses were used to assess potential confounding from tobacco smoking. A statistically significant linear relationship between radon exposure and lung cancer mortality was found. The excess relative risk per working-level month was 0.022 (95% confidence intervals: 0.013–0.034), based on 408 lung cancer deaths and 394,236 person-years of risk. Time since exposure was a statistically significant modifier; risk decreased with increasing time since exposure. A tendency for a decrease in risk with increasing attained age was observed, but this was not statistically significant. Exposure rate was not found to be a modifier of the excess relative risk. The potential confounding effect of tobacco smoking was estimated to be small and did not substantially change the radon–lung cancer mortality risk estimates. This joint cohort analysis provides strong evidence for an increased risk of lung cancer mortality from low occupational radon exposures.
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