Radon increases risk for malignant skin cancer

June 16, 2017
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

Drug suppresses spread of breast cancer caused by stem-like cells

December 12, 2017
Rare stem-like tumor cells play a critical role in the spread of breast cancer, but a vulnerability in the pathway that powers them offers a strategy to target these cells using existing drugs before metastatic disease occurs, ...

MRI scans predict patients' ability to fight the spread of cancer

December 12, 2017
A simple, non-invasive procedure that can indicate how long patients with cancer that has spread to the brain might survive and whether they are likely to respond to immunotherapy has been developed by researchers in Liverpool.

A new weapon against bone metastasis? Team develops antibody to fight cancer

December 11, 2017
In the ongoing battle between cancer and modern medicine, some therapeutic agents, while effective, can bring undesirable or even dangerous side effects. "Chemo saves lives and improves survival, but it could work much better ...

Insights on how SHARPIN promotes cancer progression

December 11, 2017
Researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery (SBP) and the Technion in Israel have found a new role for the SHARPIN protein. In addition to being one of three proteins in the linear ubiquitin chain assembly complex ...

Glioblastoma survival mechanism reveals new therapeutic target

December 11, 2017
A Northwestern Medicine study, published in the journal Cancer Cell, has provided new insights into a mechanism of tumor survival in glioblastoma and demonstrated that inhibiting the process could enhance the effects of radiation ...

Liver cancer: Lipid synthesis promotes tumor formation

December 11, 2017
Lipids comprise an optimal energy source and an important cell component. Researchers from the Biozentrum of the University of Basel and from the University of Geneva have now discovered that the protein mTOR stimulates the ...

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.