Joint effects of radiation and smoking on lung cancer risk among atomic bomb survivors

Radiat Res. 2003 Apr;159(4):511-20. doi: 10.1667/0033-7587(2003)159[0511:jeoras];2.


Results are given on the joint effect of radiation exposure and cigarette smoking on lung cancer risks among A-bomb survivors, based on 592 cases through 1994. Information on smoking was derived from mail surveys and clinical interviews of 45113 persons in the Radiation Effects Research Foundation cohort. Radiation and smoking effects on lung cancer are found to be significantly sub-multiplicative and quite consistent with additivity. The smoking relative risk, previously very low in studies of this cohort, is now similar to that found in Western populations. This increase is likely to be related to the scarcity of cigarettes during and after the war. The smoking relative risk depends little on sex. After adjusting for smoking, the radiation-related risks relative to background rates for nonsmokers are similar to those for other solid cancers: a sex-averaged ERR/Sv of about 0.9 with a female:male sex ratio of about 1.6. Adjusting for smoking removes a spuriously large female:male ratio in radiation relative risk due to confounding between sex and smoking level. The adjustment also removes an artifactual age-at-exposure effect in the radiation relative risk, opposite in direction to other cancers, which is due to birth cohort variation in lung cancer rates.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cocarcinogenesis*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / etiology
  • Nuclear Warfare*
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Risk
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Survivors*