A Review of Residential Radon Case-Control Epidemiologic Studies Performed in the United States
College of Public Health, Dept. of Epidemiology, University of Iowa (2001)
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States for both men and women. Although most lung cancer deaths are attributable to tobacco usage, even secondary causes of lung cancer are important because of the magnitude of lung cancer incidence and its poor survival rate.
This review summarizes the basic features and major findings from the published U.S. large-scale residential radon case-control studies performed in New Jersey, Iowa, and Missouri (two studies). The methodology from an unpublished study covering Connecticut, Utah, and Southern Idaho is also presented.
Overall, the higher categorical risk estimates for these published studies produced a positive association between prolonged radon exposure and lung cancer. Two studies (Missouri-II and Iowa) that incorporated enhanced dose estimates produced the most compelling evidence suggesting an association between prolonged residential radon exposure and lung cancer.
The prevailing evidence suggests that the statistically significant findings may be related to improved retrospective radon exposure estimates. The general findings from the U.S. studies, along with extrapolations from radon-exposed underground miners, support the conclusion that after cigarette smoking, prolonged residential radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the general population.