Risk of cancer in an occupationally exposed cohort with increased level of chromosomal aberrations

Environ Health Perspect. 2001 Jan;109(1):41-5. doi: 10.1289/ehp.0110941.


We used cytogenetic analysis to carry out a cohort study in which the major objective was to test the association between frequency of chromosomal aberrations and subsequent risk of cancer. In spite of the extensive use of the cytogenetic analysis of human peripheral blood lymphocytes in biomonitoring of exposure to various mutagens and carcinogens on an ecologic level, the long-term effects of an increased frequency of chromosomal aberrations in individuals are still uncertain. Few epidemiologic studies have addressed this issue, and a moderate risk of cancer in individuals with an elevated frequency of chromosomal aberrations has been observed. In the present study, we analyzed data on 8,962 cytogenetic tests and 3,973 subjects. We found a significant and strong association between the frequency of chromosomal aberrations and cancer incidence in a group of miners exposed to radon, where a 1% increase in frequency of chromosomal aberrations was followed by a 64% increase in risk of cancer (p < 0.000). In contrast, the collected data are inadequate for a critical evaluation of the association with exposure to other chemicals.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinogens, Environmental / adverse effects*
  • Chromosome Aberrations*
  • Chromosome Disorders*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cytogenetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Radon / adverse effects*
  • Risk Assessment


  • Carcinogens, Environmental
  • Radon