Leukemia and Exposure to Ionizing Radiation Among German Uranium Miners

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BackgroundIt is well known that uranium miners are at an increased risk of lung cancer. Whether they also have an increased risk for other cancer sites remains under discussion. The aim of this study was to examine the leukemia risk among miners.MethodsAn individually matched case-control study of former uranium miners in East Germany was conducted with 377 cases and 980 controls.ResultsUsing conditional logistic regression models, a dose—response relationship between leukemia risk and radon progeny could not be confirmed. Yet, a significantly elevated risk is seen in the category >400 mSv when combining γ-radiation and long-lived radionuclides.ConclusionsThe results suggest that an elevated risk for leukemia is restricted to employees with a very long occupational career in underground uranium mining or uranium processing. Moreover, the study does not support the hypothesis of an association between exposure to short-lived radon progeny and leukemia risk. Am. J. Ind. Med. 49:238-248, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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