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Radiat Environ Biophys. 2006 Sep;45(3):159-66. Epub 2006 Aug 4.

Mortality from cardiovascular diseases in the German uranium miners cohort study, 1946-1998.

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Department of Radiation Protection and Health, Federal Office for Radiation Protection, Ingolstaedter Landstr. 1, 85764 Neuherberg, Germany.


An increased risk of cardiovascular diseases after exposure to low doses of ionizing radiation has been suggested among the atomic bomb survivors. Few and inconclusive results on this issue are available from miner studies. A positive correlation between coronary heart disease mortality and radon exposure has been reported in the Newfoundland fluorspar miners study, yet low statistical power due to small sample size was of concern. To get further insight into this controversial issue, data from the German uranium miners cohort study were used, which is by far the largest miner study up to date. The cohort includes 59,001 male subjects who were employed for at least six months between 1946 and 1989 at the former Wismut uranium company in Eastern Germany. Exposure to radon, long-lived radionuclides and external gamma radiation was estimated by using a detailed job-exposure matrix. About 16,598 cohort members were deceased until 31 December 1998, including 5,417 deaths from cardiovascular diseases. Linear Poisson regression models were used to estimate the excess relative risk (ERR) per unit of cumulative radiation exposure after adjusting for attained age and calendar period. No trend in risk of circulatory diseases with increasing cumulative exposure to either radon [ERR per 100 working level month: 0.0006; 95% confidence limit (CI): -0.004 to 0.006], external gamma radiation (ERR per Sv: -0.26, 95% CI: -0.6 to 0.05) or long-lived radionuclides (ERR per 100 kBqh/m3: -0.2, 95% CI: -0.5 to 0.06), respectively, was observed. This was also true for the sub-group heart disease and stroke. Our findings do not support an association between cardiovascular disease mortality and exposure to radiation among miners, yet low doses and uncontrolled confounding hamper interpretation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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