Ionising radiation can transfer sufficient energy to ionise molecules, and this can lead to chemical changes, including DNA damage in cells. Key evidence for the carcinogenicity of ionising radiation comes from: follow-up studies of the survivors of the atomic bombings in Japan; other epidemiological studies of groups that have been exposed to radiation from medical, occupational or environmental sources; experimental animal studies; and studies of cellular responses to radiation. Considering exposure to environmental ionising radiation, inhalation of naturally occurring radon is the major source of radiation in the population - in doses orders of magnitude higher than those from nuclear power production or nuclear fallout. Indoor exposure to radon and its decay products is an important cause of lung cancer; radon may cause approximately one in ten lung cancers in Europe. Exposures to radon in buildings can be reduced via a three-step process of identifying those with potentially elevated radon levels, measuring radon levels, and reducing exposure by installation of remediation systems. In the 4th Edition of the European Code against Cancer it is therefore recommended to: "Find out if you are exposed to radiation from naturally high radon levels in your home. Take action to reduce high radon levels". Non-ionising types of radiation (those with insufficient energy to ionise molecules) - including extremely low-frequency electric and magnetic fields as well as radiofrequency electromagnetic fields - are not an established cause of cancer and are therefore not addressed in the recommendations to reduce cancer risk.

Cancer, Electromagnetic fields, Europe, Ionizing radiation, Primary prevention, Radiation-induced cancer, Radon,
Cancer Epidemiology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

McColl, N, Auvinen, A, Kesminiene, A, Espina, C, Erdmann, F, de Vries, E, … Schüz, J. (2015). European Code against Cancer 4th Edition: Ionising and non-ionising radiation and cancer. Cancer Epidemiology, 39, S93–S100. doi:10.1016/j.canep.2015.03.016