OBJECTIVES: Firstly, to ascertain whether mortality among workers of the former Spanish Nuclear Energy Board (Junta de Energía Nuclear-JEN) was higher than that for the Spanish population overall; and secondly, if this were so, to ascertain whether this difference was associated with exposure to ionising radiation. METHODS: A retrospective follow up of a cohort of 5657 workers was carried out for the period 1954-92. Cohort mortality was compared with that for the Spanish population overall, with standardised mortality ratios (SMRs) adjusted for sex, age, and calendar period. Also, Poisson models were used to analyse mortality from lung cancer in the cohort by level of exposure to ionising radiation. RESULTS: Workers' median and mean cumulative exposures were 4.04 and 11.42 mSv, respectively. Mean annual exposure was 1.33 mSv. Excess mortality due to bone tumours was found for the cohort as a whole (six deaths observed; SMR 2.95; 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.08 to 6.43). Among miners, excess mortality was found for non-malignant respiratory diseases (SMR 2.94; 95% CI 2.27 to 3.75), and for lung cancer bordering on statistical significance (SMR 1.50; 95% CI 0.96 to 2.23; P = 0.055). Relative risks of dying of lung cancer from ionising radiation in the dose quartiles 2, 3, and 4 versus the lowest dose quartile, were 1.00, 1.64, and 0.94, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Excess mortality from lung cancer was found among JEN miners. Nevertheless, no clear relation was found between mortality from lung cancer and level of exposure to ionising radiation in the JEN cohort. Continued follow up of the cohort is required to confirm excess mortality from bone tumours.
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