Occupational radiation exposure and cancer incidence in a cohort of diagnostic medical radiation workers in South Korea

Won Jin Lee, Seulki Ko, Ye Jin Bang, Seung Ah Choe, Yeongchull Choi, Dale L. Preston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives We investigated the association between protracted low-dose ionising radiation and the risk of cancer in medical radiation workers, the largest group of workers with occupational radiation exposures. Methods Data of all South Korean diagnostic medical radiation workers enrolled at the National Dose Registry during 1996-2011 were merged with the death and cancer incidence data until 31 December 2017. SIRs, relative risks and excess relative risks (ERRs) for cancer were calculated to quantify the radiation dose-response relationship using Poisson regression models. Results A total of 3392 first primary cancer cases were identified among 93 920 diagnostic medical radiation workers. The mean cumulative badge dose in the cohort was 7.20 mSv. The ERRs for solid cancer with a 5-year lag and haematopoietic cancers with a 2-year lag for all workers were 0.15 per 100 mGy (95% CI -0.20 to 0.51) and 0.09 per 100 mGy (95% CI -2.02 to 2.20), respectively. The ERRs for cancers did not significantly vary by job title, different lag years or after excluding thyroid and lung cancers. Sensitivity analyses restricted to workers employed for at least 1 year, or who were employed in or after 1996, or who had exposure to a cumulative badge dose of 1 mSv or more showed similar results. Conclusions Occupational radiation doses were not significantly associated with cancer incidence among South Korean diagnostic medical radiation workers. However, cautious interpretation of ERRs is needed due to the limitations of short follow-up and low cumulative radiation doses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)876-883
Number of pages8
JournalOccupational and Environmental Medicine
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korea government (MSIT) (No. 2020R1A2C1008891). The funding body had no role in the design of the study, data collection, analysis, interpretation or writing the manuscript.

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  • epidemiology
  • ionizing
  • occupational health
  • radiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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