Updated study suggests that background radiation contributes to the risk of leukemia and brain tumors in children

In an update of our previous study on background radiation and childhood cancer risks, we found renewed evidence suggesting that natural background radiation contributes to the development of leukemia and tumors of the central nervous system. The study included all children aged 0-15 years living in Switzerland, as recorded in national censuses in 1990, 2000, and 2010-2015. Children’s exposures were estimated based on their location of residence and the new radiation map developed by our team (see previous news item). The article is published in Open Access.


Mazzei-Abba A, Folly CL, Kreis C, Ammann RA, Adam C, Brack E, Egger M, Kuehni CE, Spycher BD. External background ionizing radiation and childhood cancer: Update of a nationwide cohort analysis. J Environ Radioact. 2021;238-239:106734. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2021.106734. Epub 2021 Sep 11

New map of terrestrial radiation for Switzerland

We published an article describing the data and methods  that we used to publish a new map of terrestrial radiation in the “Journal for Environmental Radioactivity”. The article is published as Open Access.

Christophe L. Folly, Garyfallos Konstantinoudis, Antonella Mazzei-Abba, Christian Kreis, Benno Bucher, Reinhard Furrer, Ben D. Spycher, “Bayesian spatial modelling of terrestrial radiation in Switzerland”, Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, Volume 233, 2021, doi:10.1016/j.jenvrad.2021.106571.

Read the article

International workshop “Background radiation and cancer risks in children”

The two-day international workshop was held on June 5-6, 2018 at the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM) of the University of Bern. The aim of the workshop was to evaluate how epidemiological studies of exposure to background radiation and childhood cancer risks can contribute to a better understanding of the effects of low-dose ionizing radiation.

About 50 researchers and experts from the fields of radiation epidemiology, public health, radiological protection and nuclear safety. The invited speakers came from Britain, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, and the United States.

During the first day of the workshop, researchers presented the results of previous epidemiological studies on this subject, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of their studies.

Day 2 offered room for a more detailed discussion of the main open questions and methodological challenges. Researchers sought possible explanations for the differences in results between studies and discussed the challenge of improving exposure assessment. The researchers also shared their plans for further research in their countries and discussed the possibility of pooling data in a future multi-national study.