Residential radon and risk of lung cancer in Eastern Germany

Epidemiology. 2003 Sep;14(5):559-68. doi: 10.1097/01.ede.0000071410.26053.c4.


Background: There is suggestive evidence that residential radon increases lung cancer risk. To elucidate this association further, we conducted a case-control study in Thuringia and Saxony in Eastern Germany during 1990-1997.

Methods: Histologically confirmed lung cancer patients from hospitals and a random sample of population controls matched on age, sex and geographical area were personally interviewed with respect to residential history, smoking, and other risk factors. One-year radon measurements were performed in houses occupied during the 5-35 years prior to the interview. The final analysis included a total of 1,192 cases and 1,640 controls. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated by logistic regression.

Results: Measurements covered on average 72% of the exposure time window, with mean radon concentrations of 76 Bq/m3 among the cases and 74 Bq/m3 among the controls. The smoking- and asbestos-adjusted ORs for categories of radon (50-80, 80-140 and >140 Bq/m*3, compared with 0-50 Bq/m3) were 0.95 (CI = 0.77 to 1.18), 1.13 (CI = 0.86 to1.50) and 1.30 (CI = 0.88 to 1.93). The excess relative risk per 100 Bq/mł was 0.08 (CI = -0.03 to 0.20) for all subjects and 0.09 (CI = -0.06 to 0.27) for subjects with complete measurements for all 30 years.

Conclusions: Our data indicate a small increase in lung cancer risk as a result of residential radon that is consistent with the findings of previous indoor radon and miner studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Germany, East
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Radon / analysis
  • Radon / poisoning*
  • Risk Factors


  • Radon