Radon and lung cancer in the American Cancer Society cohort

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2011 Mar;20(3):438-48. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-10-1153. Epub 2011 Jan 6.


Background: Case-control studies conducted in North America, Europe, and Asia provided evidence of increased lung cancer risk due to radon in homes. Here, the association between residential radon and lung cancer mortality was examined in a large-scale cohort study.

Methods: Nearly 1.2 million Cancer Prevention Study-II participants were recruited in 1982. Mean county-level residential radon concentrations were linked to study participants according to ZIP code information at enrollment [mean (SD)=53.5 Bq/m3 (38.0)]. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to obtain adjusted HR and 95% CI for lung cancer mortality associated with radon. Potential effect modification by cigarette smoking, ambient sulfate concentrations, and other risk factors was assessed on both the additive and multiplicative scales.

Results: Through 1988, 3,493 lung cancer deaths were observed among 811,961 participants included in the analysis. A significant positive linear trend was observed between categories of radon concentrations and lung cancer mortality (P=0.02). A 15% (95% CI, 1-31) increase in the risk of lung cancer mortality was observed per 100 Bq/m3 increase in radon. Participants with mean radon concentrations above the EPA guideline value (148 Bq/m3) experienced a 34% (95% CI, 7-68) increase in risk for lung cancer mortality relative to those below the guideline value.

Conclusions: This large prospective study showed positive associations between ecological indicators of residential radon and lung cancer.

Impact: These results further support efforts to reduce radon concentrations in homes to the lowest possible level.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • American Cancer Society
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / etiology*
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / mortality
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radon / analysis
  • Radon / poisoning*
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Radon