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Calculation of the 1995 lung cancer incidence in the Netherlands and Sweden caused by smoking and radon: risk implications for radon

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A two-mutation carcinogenesis model was used to calculate the expected lung cancer incidence caused by both smoking and exposure to radon in two populations, i.e. those of the Netherlands and Sweden. The model parameters were taken from a previous analysis of lung cancer in smokers and uranium miners and the model was applied to the two populations taking into account the smoking habits and exposure to radon. For both countries, the smoking histories and indoor radon exposure data for the period 1910–1995 were reconstructed and used in the calculations. Compared with the number of lung cancer cases observed in 1995 among both males and females in the two countries, the calculations show that between 72% and 94% of the registered lung cancer cases may be attributable to the combined effects of radon and smoking. In the Netherlands, a portion of about 4% and in Sweden, a portion of about 20% of the lung cancer cases (at ages 0–80 years) may be attributable to radon exposure, the numbers for males being slightly lower than for females. In the Netherlands, the proportions of lung cancers attributable to smoking are 91% for males and 71% for females; in Sweden, the figures are 70% and 56%, respectively. The risk from radon exposure is dependent on gender and cigarette smoking: the excess absolute risk for continuous exposure to 100 Bq m–3 ranges between 0.003 and 0.006 and compares well with current estimates, e.g. 0.0043 of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP). The excess relative risk for continuous exposure to 100 Bq m–3 shows a larger variation, ranging generally between 0.1 for smokers and 1.0 for non-smokers. The results support the assumption that exposure to (indoor) radon, even at a level as low as background radiation, causes lung cancer proportional to the dose and is consistent with risk factors derived from the miners data.

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Received: 21 January 2000 / Accepted: 1 November 2000

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Leenhouts, H., Brugmans, M. Calculation of the 1995 lung cancer incidence in the Netherlands and Sweden caused by smoking and radon: risk implications for radon. Radiat Environ Biophys 40, 11–21 (2001).

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