Case-control study on lung cancer and residential radon in western Germany

Am J Epidemiol. 2001 Jan 1;153(1):42-52. doi: 10.1093/aje/153.1.42.


In a 1990-1996 case-control study in western Germany, the authors investigated lung cancer risk due to exposure to residential radon. Confirmed lung cancer cases from hospitals and a random sample of community controls were interviewed by trained interviewers regarding different risk factors. For 1 year, alpha track detectors were placed in dwellings to measure radon gas concentrations. The evaluation included 1,449 cases and 2,297 controls recruited from the entire study area and a subsample of 365 cases and 595 controls from radon-prone areas of the basic study region. Rate ratios were estimated by using conditional logistic regression adjusted for smoking and for asbestos exposure. In the entire study area, no rate ratios different from 1.0 were found; in the radon-prone areas, the adjusted rate ratios for exposure in the present dwelling were 1.59 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.08, 2.27), 1.93 (95% CI: 1.19, 3.13), and 1.93 (95% CI: 0.99, 3.77) for 50-80, 80-140, and >140 Bq/m3, respectively, compared with 0-50 Bq/m3. The excess rate ratio for an increase of 100 Bq/m3 was 0.13 (-0.12 to 0.46). An analysis based on cumulative exposure produced similar results. The results provide additional evidence that residential radon is a risk factor for lung cancer, although a risk was detected in radon-prone areas only, not in the entire study area.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / epidemiology
  • Adenocarcinoma / etiology
  • Air Pollutants, Radioactive / adverse effects*
  • Air Pollutants, Radioactive / analysis
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / etiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Housing* / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radon / adverse effects*
  • Radon / analysis
  • Risk Factors


  • Air Pollutants, Radioactive
  • Radon