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Health Phys. 2005 Jan;88(1):71-9.

Increased lung cancer risk due to residential radon in a pooled and extended analysis of studies in Germany.

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GSF-National Research Center for Environment and Health, Institute of Epidemiology, Neuherberg, Germany.


Residential radon has been shown to be a risk factor for lung cancer in several studies-but with limited power in each single study. The data of two case-control studies performed during 1990-1997 in Germany and used for previous publications have been extended and pooled. Both studies have identical study designs. In total, data of 2,963 incident lung cancer cases and 4,232 population controls are analyzed here. One-year radon measurements were performed in houses occupied during the 5-35 y prior to the interview. Conditional logistic and linear relative risk regression was used for the analysis. Measurements covered on average 70% of the exposure time window, with an average radon exposure of 61 Bq m(-3). The smoking and asbestos-adjusted ORs were 0.97 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.85 to 1.11] for 50-80 Bq m(-3), 1.06 (95% CI 0.87 to 1.30) for 80-140 Bq m(-3) and 1.40 (95% CI 1.03 to 1.89) for radon concentrations above 140 Bq m(-3), compared to the reference category <50 Bq m(-3). The linear increase in the odds ratio per 100 Bq m(-3) was 0.10 (95% CI -0.02 to 0.30) for all subjects and 0.14 (95% CI -0.03 to 0.55) for less mobile subjects who lived in only one home in the last 5-35 y. The risk coefficients generally were higher when measurement error in the radon concentrations was reduced by restricting the population. With respect to histopathology, the risk for small cell carcinoma was higher than for other subtypes. This analysis strengthens the evidence that residential radon is a relevant risk factor for lung cancer.

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