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Fact Sheet on Radon's Cancer Risks

The CMA has joined forces with Health Canada to remind Canadians - and their physicians - that the cancer risk posed by household radon gas is particularly acute for smokers.

"Almost 90% of lung cancer deaths are caused by smoking," says a new fact sheet designed for physicians to distribute to patients. "Radon exposure is linked to approximately 10% of lung cancers in Canada and is the second leading cause of lung cancer for smokers."

The connection between cancer and radon - a gas produced naturally as uranium breaks down, which then seeps into houses - is well known. However, many people are unaware that smokers living in a high-radon environment have a one-in-three chance of developing lung cancer, compared with a one-in-20 rate for non-smokers.

"Radon plus smoking is a dangerous combination," says the fact sheet, which was issued in March. "Don't let the two leading causes of lung cancer stand in the way of living a long and healthy life - quit smoking and test your home."

The fact sheet says testing for the odorless gas is inexpensive and can be done by certified professionals or with do-it-yourself kits. High radon levels can be reduced by sealing major entry routes, such as cracks in a foundation, and by improved ventilation.

Physicians can order the free fact sheets via email, radon@hc-sc.gc.ca.