Scientific article
Open access

A cohort analysis of residential radon exposure and melanoma incidence in Switzerland

Published inEnvironmental research, vol. 243, 117822
Publication date2024
First online date2023-12-02

Radon is a radioactive noble gas found in Earth's crust. It accumulates in buildings, and accounts for approximately half the ionizing radiation dose received by humans. The skin is considerably exposed to ionizing radiation from radon. We aimed to evaluate the association between residential radon exposure and melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma incidence. The study included 1.3 million adults (20 years and older) from the Swiss National Cohort who were residents of the cantons of Vaud, Neuchâtel, Valais, Geneva, Fribourg, and Ticino at the study baseline (December 04, 2000). Cases of primary tumours of skin (melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma) were identified using data from cantonal cancer registries. Long-term residential radon and ambient solar ultraviolet radiation exposures were assigned to each individual's address at baseline. Cox proportional hazard models with age as time scale, adjusted for canton, socioeconomic position, demographic data available in the census, and outdoor occupation were applied. Total and age specific effects were calculated, in the full population and in non-movers, and potential effect modifiers were tested. In total 4937 incident cases of melanoma occurred during an average 8.9 years of follow-up. Across all ages, no increased risk of malignant melanoma or squamous cell carcinoma incidence in relation to residential radon was found. An association was only observed for melanoma incidence in the youngest age group of 20-29 year olds (1.68 [95% CI: 1.29, 2.19] 100 Bq/m3 radon). This association was mainly in women, and in those with low socio-economic position. Residential radon exposure might be a relevant risk factor for melanoma, especially for young adults. However, the results must be interpreted with caution as this finding is based on a relatively small number of melanoma cases. Accumulation of radon is preventable, and measures to reduce exposure and communicate the risks remain important to convey to the public.

  • Incidence
  • Melanoma
  • Prospective cohort
  • Radon
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
Citation (ISO format)
BOZ, Seçkin et al. A cohort analysis of residential radon exposure and melanoma incidence in Switzerland. In: Environmental research, 2024, vol. 243, p. 117822. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2023.117822
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0013-9351

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