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Radon in the Home Linked to Hematologic Malignancies

Association seen in women, but no connection found in men

WEDNESDAY, May 4, 2016 (HealthDay News) — There appears to be a strong link between exposure to high levels of radon in the home and women’s risk of hematologic malignancies, according to a study published online recently in Environmental Research.

The American Cancer Society collected information over 19 years on 140,652 Americans as part of a prevention study. During that time, 3,019 incident hematologic cancer cases were diagnosed. The cancers included leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma, the researchers found. Women who lived in counties with the highest radon levels were 63 percent more likely to develop hematologic malignancies than those in counties with the lowest radon levels. There was no link seen among men, the authors noted.

“The overall lifetime risk of hematological cancers in the United States is about 2 percent, so even a 60 percent relative increase would still mean a relatively small absolute risk,” study leader Lauren Teras, Ph.D., of the American Cancer Society, said in a journal news release. “Nonetheless, radon is already associated with lung cancer, and if other studies confirm the link to blood cancers, we think it would warrant strengthened public health efforts to mitigate residential radon risks.”

The study authors said further research is needed to learn more about the link between radon and hematologic malignancies, and whether women actually have a higher risk than men.

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