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Radon Increases Risk for Malignant Skin Cancer

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 skin cancer in Switzerland.

The study analyzed 1,900 deaths due to malignant melanoma which occurred throughout Switzerland between 2000 and 2008 in people aged 20 years and above. The residential radon exposure was modeled on the basis of 45,000 measurements and accounted for the housing's characteristics and the geological conditions of the area.

Skin Cancer Rate May Be Higher in High-Radon Areas

(Reuters Health) - Rates of one form of skin cancer may be elevated in areas with naturally high levels of the radioactive gas radon, a UK study suggests.

But researchers caution the findings do not prove that radon raises people's risk of the disease, known as squamous cell carcinoma -- a highly curable type of skin cancer.

Their study looked only at wider geographical patterns, showing a correlation between an area's radon levels and rates of the skin cancer.

Radon -- a gas produced from the decay of naturally occurring uranium in soil and water -- is already considered a risk factor for lung cancer.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that radon contributes to about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year -- although smoking is also involved in the majority of those cases.

For the new study, reported in the journal Epidemiology, UK researchers looked at skin cancer rates across 287 postal codes in southwest England.

Suggested Link Between Radon and Skin Cancer

A new study published this week suggests that a link may exist between radon exposure and non-melanoma skin cancer.

Researchers from the European Centre for Environment & Human Health (part of the Peninsula College of Medicine & Dentistry) have detected a connection following analysis of data on radon exposure and skin cancer cases from across southwest England. The study, which looked at small geographical areas across Devon and Cornwall, builds upon a similar study conducted 15 years ago.

Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas found in soil and bedrock common in parts of the southwest. It has been recognised as a minor contributor to cases of lung cancer, but so far there has been no firm evidence to suggest it has wider health implications.