Background: Several case-control studies have indicated an increased risk of lung cancer linked to indoor radon exposure; others have not supported this hypothesis, partly because of a lack of statistical power. As part of a large European project, a hospital-based case-control study was carried out in 4 areas in France with relatively high radon levels.
Methods: Radon concentrations were measured in dwellings that had been occupied by the study subjects during the 5- to 30-year period before the interview. Measurements of radon concentrations were performed during a 6-month period using 2 Kodalpha LR 115 detectors (Dosirad, France), 1 in the living room and 1 in the bedroom. We examined lung cancer risk in relation to indoor radon exposure after adjustment for age, sex, region, cigarette smoking, and occupational exposure.
Results: We included in the analysis 486 cases and 984 controls with radon measures in at least 1 dwelling. When lung cancer risk was examined in relation to the time-weighted average radon concentration during the 5- to 30-year period, the estimated relative risks (with 95% confidence intervals) were: 0.85 (0.59-1.22), 1.19 (0.81-1.77), 1.04 (0.64-1.67), and 1.11 (0.59-2.09) for categories 50-100, 100-200, 200-400, and 400+ becquerels per cubic meter (Bq/m), respectively (reference <50 Bq/m). The estimated relative risk per 100 Bq/m was 1.04 (0.99-1.11) for all subjects and 1.07 (1.00-1.14) for subjects with complete measurements.
Conclusions: Our results support the presence of a small excess lung cancer risk associated with indoor radon exposure after precise adjustment on smoking. They are in agreement with results from some other indoor radon case-control studies and with extrapolations from studies of underground miners.