Background: Increased brain tumour incidence over recent decades may reflect improved diagnostic methods and clinical practice, but remain unexplained. Although estimated doses are low a relationship between radon and brain tumours may exist.
Objective: To investigate the long-term effect of exposure to residential radon on the risk of primary brain tumour in a prospective Danish cohort.
Methods: During 1993-1997 we recruited 57,053 persons. We followed each cohort member for cancer occurrence from enrolment until 31 December 2009, identifying 121 primary brain tumour cases. We traced residential addresses from 1 January 1971 until 31 December 2009 and calculated radon concentrations at each address using information from central databases regarding geology and house construction. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate incidence rate-ratios (IRR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for the risk of primary brain tumours associated with residential radon exposure with adjustment for age, sex, occupation, fruit and vegetable consumption and traffic-related air pollution. Effect modification by air pollution was assessed.
Results: Median estimated radon was 40.5 Bq/m(3). The adjusted IRR for primary brain tumour associated with each 100 Bq/m(3) increment in average residential radon levels was 1.96 (95% CI: 1.07; 3.58) and this was exposure-dependently higher over the four radon exposure quartiles. This association was not modified by air pollution.
Conclusions: We found significant associations and exposure-response patterns between long-term residential radon exposure radon in a general population and risk of primary brain tumours, adding new knowledge to this field. This finding could be chance and needs to be challenged in future studies.