NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Jun 11
Households containing high levels of naturally occurring radiation, such as radon, are not associated with an increased risk of childhood cancers, according to two reports by UK Childhood Cancer Study Investigators.
The researchers, who published their findings in the June 5th issue of the British Journal of Cancer, said there has been some suggestion from previous studies that radon and cosmic or ground radiation might contribute to childhood cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma.
But their results showed otherwise.
"Although some areas have higher levels of radon or gamma radiation than others, the differences don't seem to be big enough to produce a detectable effect," Dr. Richard Doll, a professor at the University of Oxford and chairman of the research group, said in a statement.
In the first study, the scientists compared radon measurements from the bedrooms and living rooms of 2226 children who had cancer with those from the homes of 3773 healthy children.
Higher radon levels were not linked to the development of any of the six cancers studied including acute lymphoblastic leukemia, other leukemias, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease, central nervous system tumors and other solid tumors.
In fact, the researchers found that increasing radon levels were associated with lower cancer rates. There were higher radon readings in wealthier homes, which tend to have double-glazed windows, central heating, and other amenities that keep houses more airtight.
The authors said the current findings "offer no support for the suggestion that radon concentration is associated with the incidence of childhood cancer in general, or of leukemia in particular."
In the second study, a detector was used to measure natural gamma ray radiation in the homes of 2165 children with cancer and in the homes of 5086 control children, for 5 to 7 months. Once again, the radiation dose was not linked to cancer risk.
Br J Cancer 2002;86:1721-1726, 1727-1731.
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