Radon and its decay products, a source of ionizing radiation, are primarily inhaled and can deliver a radiation dose to breast tissue, where they may continue to decay and emit DNA damage-inducing particles. Few studies have examined the relationship between radon and breast cancer.
The Nurses' Health Study II (NHSII) includes U.S. female registered nurses who completed biennial questionnaires since 1989. Self-reported breast cancer was confirmed from medical records. County-level radon exposures were linked with geocoded residential addresses updated throughout follow-up. Time-varying Cox regression models adjusted for established breast cancer risk factors were used to calculate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
From 1989 to 2013, 3966 invasive breast cancer cases occurred among 112,639 participants. Increasing radon exposure was not associated with breast cancer risk overall (adjusted HR comparing highest to lowest quintile = 1.06, 95% CI: 0.94, 1.21, p for trend = 0.30). However, women in the highest quintile of exposure (≥74.9 Bq/m(3)) had a suggested elevated risk of ER-/PR- breast cancer compared to women in the lowest quintile (<27.0 Bq/m(3)) (adjusted HR = 1.38, 95% CI: 0.97, 1.96, p for trend = 0.05). No association was observed for ER+/PR+ breast cancer.
Although we did not find an association between radon exposure and risk of overall or ER+/PR+ breast cancer, we observed a suggestive association with risk of ER-/PR- breast cancer.