Radon, cigarette smoke, and lung cancer: a re-analysis of the Colorado Plateau uranium miners' data

Epidemiology. 1993 May;4(3):204-17.


Much of our knowledge regarding the interaction of radon and tobacco smoke in the etiology of human lung cancer derives from studies of uranium miners. In this article, we present a re-analysis of lung cancer mortality in the Colorado Plateau miners' cohort within the framework of the two-mutation clonal expansion model of carcinogenesis. This analysis takes into account the patterns of exposure to radon and cigarette smoke experienced by individuals in the cohort. A simultaneous re-analysis of the British doctors' cohort indicated that those model parameters relating to the effects of tobacco were comparable in the two data sets. We found no evidence of interaction between radon and tobacco smoke with respect to their joint effect on the first or second stage mutation rates or on the rate of proliferation of initiated cells. The age-specific relative risks associated with joint exposure to radon and cigarette smoke, however, were supra-additive but submultiplicative. The analysis also confirmed that fractionation of radon exposures leads to higher lung cancer risks. Finally, we present some estimates of lung cancer risk from environmental radon exposure for non-smokers and smokers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Colorado / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mining*
  • Models, Biological
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / mortality
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Radon*
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Uranium


  • Uranium
  • Radon