Lung Cancer and Radon

The Institute of Genetic Epidemiology at UMG has been cooperating with the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) for many years. Natural radiation, primarily caused by radon, is viewed the second most important cause of lung cancer. The risk of developing radon-induced lung cancer is low for the individual. However, radon is a component of the air taken in with every breath. Thus, the lifetime risk varies depending on exposure and sensitivity to radiation. An individual’s capacity to repair DNA damage is a key issue in the discussion on the incidence of lung cancer.

At the BfS, DNA from blood samples of lung cancer patients and close relatives, as well as from cancer-free control subjects, was artificially irradiated in 11,043 individual experiments to determine the DNA repair capacity, i.e. the independent repair of the damage by the cells. We demonstrated that DNA repair capacity is a potential predictor of lung cancer at a young age, and has quite high heritability even without artificial irradiation. We then compared the genetic information of miners with extreme occupational radon exposure who developed lung cancer with that of a large cohort of cancer-free individuals. This allowed us to identify a number of genes that might influence individual susceptibility to radon-induced lung cancer. We are working on the validation of these results.

In a project independent of the BfS, we are trying to decipher the molecular-biological mechanisms of indoor radon exposure, to which everyone is exposed at far lower doses.

Contact persons
Albert Rosenberger
Mag. Albert Rosenberger
+49 (0)551 39-14044
+49 (0)551 39-14094

Last updated March 2023