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Health Phys. 2004 Dec;87(6):647-55; discussion 656-8.

Residential radon exposure and lung cancer risk: commentary on Cohen's county-based study.

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Physics Department, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY, USA.


The large United States county-based study () in which an inverse relationship has been suggested between residential low-dose radon levels and lung cancer mortality has been reviewed. While this study has been used to evaluate the validity of the linear nonthreshold theory, the grouped nature of its data limits the usefulness of this application. Our assessment of the study's approach, including a reanalysis of its data, also indicates that the likelihood of strong, undetected confounding effects by cigarette smoking, coupled with approximations of data values and uncertainties in accuracy of data sources regarding levels of radon exposure and intensity of smoking, compromises the study's analytic power. The most clear data for estimating lung cancer risk from low levels of radon exposure continue to rest with higher-dose studies of miner populations in which projections to zero dose are consistent with estimates arising from most case-control studies regarding residential exposure.

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