Occupational Radiation Exposure and Deaths From Malignant Intracranial Neoplasms of the Brain and CNS in U.S. Radiologic Technologists, 1983-2012

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2017 Jun;208(6):1278-1284. doi: 10.2214/AJR.16.16964. Epub 2017 Mar 28.


Objective: Childhood exposure to acute, high-dose radiation has consistently been associated with risk of benign and malignant intracranial tumors of the brain and CNS, but data on risks of adulthood exposure to protracted, low-to-moderate doses of radiation are limited. In a large cohort of radiologic technologists, we quantified the association between protracted, low-to-moderate doses of radiation and malignant intracranial tumor mortality.

Materials and methods: The study population included 83,655 female and 26,642 male U.S. radiologic technologists who were certified for at least 2 years as of 1982. The cohort was followed from the completion date of the first or second survey (1983-1989 or 1994-1998) to the date of death, loss to follow-up, or December 31, 2012, whichever was earliest. Occupational brain doses through 1997 were based on work history, historical data, and, for most years after the mid 1970s, individual film badge measurements. Radiation-related excess relative risks (ERRs) and 95% CIs were estimated from Poisson regression models adjusted for attained age and sex.

Results: Cumulative mean absorbed brain dose was 12 mGy (range, 0-290 mGy). During follow-up (median, 26.7 years), 193 technologists died of a malignant intracranial neoplasm. Based on models incorporating a 5-year lagged cumulative brain dose, cumulative brain dose was not associated with malignant intracranial tumor mortality (overall ERR per 100 mGy, 0.1; 95% CI, < -0.3 to 1.5). No effect modification was observed by sex or birth cohort.

Conclusion: In this nationwide cohort of radiologic technologists, cumulative occupational radiation exposure to the brain was not associated with malignant intracranial tumor mortality.

Keywords: brain cancer; brain tumors; dose; epidemiology; intracranial neoplasm; mortality; occupational exposure; radiation; radiologic technologists.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Allied Health Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Allied Health Personnel / trends
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / mortality*
  • Occupational Diseases / mortality*
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Radiation Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate
  • Technology, Radiologic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Technology, Radiologic / trends
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Workforce
  • Young Adult