Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1982;8 suppl 1:59-64    pdf

Effects of low-dose radiation - a correlation study.

by Edling C, Comba P, Axelson O, Flodin U

The effects of low-dose radiation have been a matter of controversy over the years, and the epidemiologic results have been conflicting. A couple of recent studies have indicated a possible impact on lung cancer mortality from exposure to indoor levels of radon and radon daughters. In this study, selected mortality rates, ie, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, breast cancer (females only), leukemia, and multiple myeloma were correlated for the counties of Sweden with estimates of average background radiation exposure in these areas. Significant correlations were obtained for lung cancer (males, r = 0.46; females r = 0.55) and pancreatic cancer (males, r = 0.59; females, r = 0.40) , and there was a borderline correlation (r = 0.36; p = 0.04) for leukemia in males. In all, there were positive correlations for eight out of the nine computations made. Since background radiation correlates with urbanization and therefore with smoking, air pollution, etc, the correlations might be spurious due to confounding; on the other hand confounding is a reciprocal phenomenon which suggests that background radiation should to be taken into consideration when widespread risk factors like smoking, coffee drinking, general air pollution, etc, are studied.