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Dose Response. 2012;10(1):58-65. doi: 10.2203/dose-response.10-010.Hart. Epub 2010 Jun 25.

Cancer mortality, state mean elevations, and other selected predictors.

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  • 1Sherman College of Chiropractic.


This ecological inquiry compares cancer mortality rates in the U.S. to the predictor of natural background radiation (via land elevation means) along with eight other predictors thought to be associated with cancer mortality. Age-adjusted cancer mortality in 2006 was compared to the predictors of mean land elevation, percent of smokers, educational attainment, percent of population without health insurance, income, obesity, health perception, physical activity, and diet. Among the six predictors considered appropriate for multiple linear regression, three were found to be statistically significant; from strongest to weakest, these three were: smoking, land elevation, and educational attainment. The predictors of smoking and educational attainment have long been considered associated with cancer mortality. The finding that the predictor of land elevation / natural background radiation is inversely related to cancer mortality is another piece of evidence supporting the theory of radiation hormesis. In this study, land elevation / natural background radiation ranked second in predictive strength regarding cancer mortality, behind smoking and ahead of educational attainment. Since this is an ecological inquiry, no causal inferences can be made.


Radiation effects; background radiation; cancer; mortality

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