pendent of baseline risks. As a central estimate, the committee recommends a weighted estimate of these two results with the ratio of the two used to reflect the uncertainty in transporting risks. For most sites, a weight of 0.7 is used for relative transport and a weight of 0.3 is used for absolute transport; the weighting is reversed for lung cancer.

The committee provides estimates of lifetime risks of both cancer incidence and mortality for leukemia, all solid cancers, and cancers of several specific sites (stomach, colon, liver, lung, female breast, prostate, uterus, ovary, bladder, and all other solid cancers). The committee’s recommended models provide the basis for sex-specific estimates for exposure scenarios including single exposures at various ages, chronic exposure throughout life, or occupational exposure from age 18 to 65.

As an example, Table 12-13 shows the estimated number of incident cancer cases and deaths that would be expected to result if a population of 100,000 persons with an age distribution similar to that of the entire U.S. population were each exposed to 0.1 Gy, and also shows the numbers that would be expected in the absence of exposure. Results are shown for all solid cancers and for leukemia. The estimates are accompanied by 95% subjective confidence intervals that reflect the most important sources of uncertainty, namely, statistical variation, uncertainty in the factor used to adjust risk estimates for exposure at low doses and low dose rates, and uncertainty in the method of transport. Consideration of additional sources of uncertainty would increase the width of these intervals. Mortality estimates are reasonably compatible with those in previous risk assessments, particularly if uncertainties are considered. Previous risk assessments have paid much less attention to cancer incidence.

The committee also presents estimates for each of several specific cancer sites and for other exposure scenarios, although they are not shown here. For many cancer sites, uncertainty is very large, with subjective 95% confidence intervals covering greater than an order of magnitude.

TABLE 12-13 Committee’s Preferred Estimates of Lifetime Attributable Risk of Incidence and Mortality for All Solid Cancers and for Leukemia


All Solid Cancer






Excess cases (including nonfatal cases) from exposure to 0.1 Gy

800 (400, 1600)

1300 (690, 2500)

100 (30, 300)

70 (20, 250)

Number of cases in the absence of exposure





Excess deaths from exposure to 0.1 Gy

410 (200, 830)

610 (300, 1200)

70 (20, 220)

50 (10, 190)

Number of deaths in the absence of exposure





NOTE: Number of cases or deaths per 100,000 exposed persons with 95% subjective CIs.


This annex briefly reviews models that have been used in recent years to estimate risks of cancer. All details of these models are not given, but the general approaches that have been used are described. The committee begins with mention of the BEIR IV model for estimating lung cancer risks from exposure to radon, which is important because it was the first major radiation risk assessment based on modeling ERR (NRC 1988). Specifically, the BEIR IV committee analyzed data on four cohorts of underground miners and developed expressions for the ERR of lung cancer as a function of working level months, time since exposure, and attained age.


The BEIR V committee (NRC 1990) used the same general approach initiated in BEIR IV and analyzed data to develop expressions for the ERR for estimating risks from low-LET radiation. At the time the BEIR V committee began its work, the analyses needed for ERR-based risk modeling were not available, so it was necessary for the committee to rely extensively on its own analyses. The BEIR V committee models express the ERR as a function of radiation dose, sex, age at exposure, and time since exposure. Separate models were developed for mortality from leukemia, breast cancer, respiratory cancer, digestive cancer, and all other cancers. With the exception of breast cancer, the BEIR V mortality models were derived from analyses of A-bomb survivor mortality data for the period 1950–1985 (Shimizu and others 1990). The model for breast cancer mortality was based on both A-bomb survivor data and Canadian fluoroscopy patients. Models were also developed for breast and thyroid cancer incidence, although no lifetime risk estimates based on these models were presented. The breast cancer incidence model was based on data from A-bomb survivors,

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