Research suggests a strong link between exposure to high levels of radon in the home and women’s risk of blood cancers.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. It is found in varying concentrations throughout the US and can be present in your home without your knowledge. According to the Surgeon General Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer amongst non-smokers in the United States.
The study conducted by the American Cancer Society, collected information over 19 years on more than 140,000 Americans as part of a prevention study. During that time, just over 3,000 cases of blood cancer were diagnosed. The cancers included leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma.
The findings indicate that women who lived in counties with the highest radon levels were 63 percent more likely to develop blood cancers than those in counties with the lowest radon levels. There was no link seen among men, the study noted.
The study was published online recently in the journal Environmental Research.
Given the overall lifetime risk of hematological [blood] cancers in the United States is about 2 percent, a 60 percent relative increase is a significant increase in risk. radon is already associated with lung cancer, and if studies confirm the link to blood cancers, it is more of a reason to have your home tested.
The study authors said further research is needed to learn more about the link between radon and blood cancers, and whether women actually have a higher risk than men. In 2016, it’s expected there will be more than 171,000 new U.S. cases of blood cancers and more than 58,000 deaths from these cancers, the researchers said.