Occupational and diagnostic exposure to ionizing radiation and leukemia risk among German uranium miners

Health Phys. 2010 Sep;99(3):314-21. doi: 10.1097/HP.0b013e3181cd6536.


Lung cancer is a well-known effect of radon exposure in uranium mines. However, little is known about the induction of leukemia by radiation exposure in mines. Moreover, miners usually have occupational medical checkup programs that include chest x-ray examinations. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to re-examine leukemia risk among miners, taking into account exposure to x rays for diagnostic purposes. The data used were from a previously analyzed individually matched case-control study of former uranium miners in East Germany with 377 cases and 980 controls. Additionally, data on x-ray examinations were taken from medical records for most of the subjects. Finally, the absorbed dose to red bone marrow was calculated considering both occupational and diagnostic exposures. Using conditional logistic regression models, a moderately but not statistically significant elevated risk was seen in the dose category above 200 mGy for the combined dose from both sources [odds ratio (OR) = 1.33, 90% confidence interval (CI): (0.82-2.14)]. Ignoring the dose accumulated in the recent 20 y, the risk in the highest dose category (>105 mGy) was higher [OR = 1.77, 90% CI: (1.06-2.95)]. Ignoring diagnostic exposure yielded similar results. For the highest dose category (absorbed dose lagged by 20 y) the risk was more than doubled [OR = 2.64, 90% CI: (1.60-4.35)].

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bone Marrow / metabolism
  • Bone Marrow / radiation effects
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Leukemia / chemically induced
  • Leukemia / epidemiology*
  • Logistic Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Mining*
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / chemically induced
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis*
  • Occupational Health Services
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Radiation, Ionizing
  • Radiography / adverse effects*
  • Radon Daughters / adverse effects
  • Radon Daughters / analysis
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk
  • Time Factors
  • Uranium / adverse effects
  • Uranium / analysis*
  • X-Rays / adverse effects


  • Radon Daughters
  • Uranium