Biologically based analysis of the data for the Colorado uranium miners cohort: age, dose and dose-rate effects

Radiat Res. 1999 Oct;152(4):339-51.


This study is a comprehensive analysis of the latest follow-up of the Colorado uranium miners cohort using the two-stage clonal expansion model with particular emphasis on effects related to age and exposure. The model provides a framework in which the hazard function for lung cancer mortality incorporates detailed information on exposure to radon and radon progeny from hard rock and uranium mining together with information on cigarette smoking. Even though the effect of smoking on lung cancer risk is explicitly modeled, a significant birth cohort effect is found which shows a linear increase in the baseline lung cancer risk with birth year of the miners in the cohort. The analysis based on the two-stage clonal expansion model suggests that exposure to radon affects both the rate of initiation of intermediate cells in the pathway to cancer and the rate of proliferation of intermediate cells. However, in contrast to the promotional effect of radon, which is highly significant, the effect of radon on the rate of initiation is found to be not significant. The model is also used to study the inverse dose-rate effect. This effect is evident for radon exposures typical for mines but is predicted to be attenuated, and for longer exposures even reversed, for the more protracted and lower radon exposures in homes. The model also predicts the drop in risk with time after exposure ceases. For residential exposures, lung cancer risks are compared with the estimates from the BEIR VI report. While the risk estimates are in agreement with those derived from residential studies, they are about two- to fourfold lower than those reported in the BEIR VI report.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cocarcinogenesis
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Mining*
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Smoking
  • Uranium / poisoning*


  • Uranium