Objectives/Hypothesis: To determine whether there is an association between radon levels and the rise in incidence of thyroid cancer in Pennsylvania.
Study Design: Epidemiological study of the state of Pennsylvania.
Methods: We used information from the Pennsylvania Cancer Registry and the Pennsylvania Department of Energy. From the registry, information regarding thyroid incidence by county and zip code was recorded. Information regarding radon levels per county was recorded from the state. Poisson regression models were fit predicting county-level thyroid incidence and change as a function of radon/lagged radon levels. To account for measurement error in the radon levels, a Bayesian Model extending the Poisson models was fit. Geospatial clustering analysis was also performed.
Results: No association was noted between cumulative radon levels and thyroid incidence. In the Poisson modeling, no significant association was noted between county radon level and thyroid cancer incidence (P5.23). Looking for a lag between the radon level and its effect, no significant effect was seen with a lag of 0 to 6 years between exposure and effect (P5.063 to P5.59). The Bayesian models also failed to show a statistically significant association. A cluster of high thyroid cancer incidence was found in western Pennsylvania.
Conclusions: Through a variety of models, no association was elicited between annual radon levels recorded in Pennsylvania and the rising incidence of thyroid cancer. However, a cluster of thyroid cancer incidence was found in western Pennsylvania. Further studies may be helpful in looking for other exposures or associations.
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