Radon increases risk for malignant skin cancer

June 16, 2017, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute
Micrograph of malignant melanoma. Cytology specimen. Field stain. Credit: Nephron/Wikipeida

It is undisputed that radon is a risk factor for developing lung cancer. New research by the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) in the context of the Swiss National Cohort study now shows that the naturally occurring radioactive gas radon within one's home also increases the risk to develop malignant skin cancer (malignant melanoma).

The study titled "Effects of Radon and UV Exposure on Skin Cancer Mortality in Switzerland" is published in the scientific peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives. It examines the impact of radon and UV exposure on mortality due to malignant in Switzerland.

The study analysed 1,900 deaths due to malignant melanoma which occurred throughout Swit-zerland between 2000 and 2008 in people aged 20 years and above. The residential radon ex-posure was modelled on the basis of 45,000 measurements and accounted for the housing's characteristics and the geological conditions of the area.

Radon more dangerous for young people

"Our study shows that, when radon decays, radioactive alpha particles not only destroy lung tissue but can also affect the skin. This has rarely been researched in the past," says Martin Röösli, professor for environmental epidemiology at Swiss TPH, who wrote the study together with Danielle Vienneau, senior scientific collaborator at the Institute.

For the 30-year-olds, the relative risk for skin cancer increases around 50% per 100 Bq/m? in-crease in radon exposure, while for the 60-year-olds it is considerably lower (16%). "The younger the individual is, the greater the impact of radon on the risk of developing the disease," he explains. "The strengths of the Swiss TPH study are that it was a longitudinal analysis of the total population of Switzerland and that the effects of radon were modelled for every single household."

Radon and skin cancer in Switzerland

Radon originates from granitic and metamorphic rocks and the soil. The level of residential radon exposure depends on both the geological condition of the area and on how well a house is sealed against radon vapour intrusion from the soil.

Of note, Switzerland has the third highest incidence rate of malignant skin cancer worldwide, which places it far above the central European average. Incidence of has more than doubled in the last 20 years. With appropriate house construction, residential exposure can be significantly reduced.

Explore further: High levels of radon found in Pennsylvania water wells

More information: "Effects of Radon and UV Exposure on Skin Cancer Mortality in Switzerland," Environmental Health Perspective. ehp.niehs.nih.gov/ehp825/

Related Stories

High levels of radon found in Pennsylvania water wells

May 11, 2017
Cancer-causing radon has been found in some Pennsylvania water wells, adding slightly to the much bigger threat faced by homeowners from airborne sources of the radioactive gas.

Suggested link between radon and skin cancer

November 14, 2011
A new study published this week suggests that a link may exist between radon exposure and non-melanoma skin cancer.

Study links residential radon exposure to hematologic cancers in women

April 28, 2016
A new report finds a statistically-significant, positive association between high levels of residential radon and the risk of hematologic cancer (lymphoma, myeloma, and leukemia) in women. The study is the first prospective, ...

Study finds one in eight Calgary homes exceed Health Canada's acceptable radon level

March 29, 2017
Radon gas is a colourless, odourless radioactive gas that has been linked to lung cancer. Now, University of Calgary, Cumming School of Medicine, researchers have proven it's prevalent throughout southern Alberta and in Calgary ...

Know your risk for radon exposure

May 27, 2014
Kentucky has the "triple crown of lung cancer" -  the country's highest rate of smoking and high rates of secondhand smoke exposure and radon exposure. Radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. ...

Recommended for you

Single-cell study in a childhood brain tumor affirms the importance of context

April 20, 2018
In defining the cellular context of diffuse midline gliomas, researchers find the cells fueling their growth and suggest a potential approach to treating them: forcing their cells to be more mature.

Aggressive breast cancer already has resistant tumour cells prior to chemotherapy

April 20, 2018
Difficult to treat and aggressive "triple-negative" breast cancer is chemoresistant even before chemotherapy begins, a new study by researchers from Karolinska Institutet and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center ...

Mechanism that drives development of liver cancer brought on by non-alcoholic fatty liver disease discovered

April 19, 2018
A team of researchers from several institutions in China has found a mechanism that appears to drive the development of a type of liver cancer not caused by alcohol consumption. In their paper published in the journal Science ...

Discovery adds to evidence that some children are predisposed to develop leukemia

April 19, 2018
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital researchers have made a discovery that expands the list of genes to include when screening individuals for possible increased susceptibility to childhood leukemia. The finding is reported ...

Scientists identify 170 potential lung cancer drug targets using unique cellular library

April 19, 2018
After testing more than 200,000 chemical compounds, UT Southwestern's Simmons Cancer Center researchers have identified 170 chemicals that are potential candidates for development into drug therapies for lung cancer.

Chip-based blood test for multiple myeloma could make bone biopsies a relic of the past

April 19, 2018
The diagnosis and treatment of multiple myeloma, a cancer affecting plasma cells, traditionally forces patients to suffer through a painful bone biopsy. During that procedure, doctors insert a bone-biopsy needle through an ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.