New video urges physicians to learn about, relay radon risks
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The University of Iowa College of Public Health and the Iowa Cancer Consortium (ICC) today announced the release of a new video intended to educate physicians on the dangers of radon and the link between the radioactive gas and lung cancer.
The video, Breathing Easier, is available at www.breathingeasier.info and asks physicians the simple question: “Do you know about radon?” Radon is the leading environmental cause of cancer mortality in the United States. It is the number one cause of lung cancer among individuals who have never smoked, the second leading cause of lung cancer overall, and is responsible for an estimated 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States.
“Radon-induced lung cancer is preventable, plain and simple,” says Bill Field, Ph.D., professor of occupational and environmental health in the UI College of Public Health. “Our goal with Breathing Easier is to educate physicians on this issue, to relay this information on to their patients, and to test their own homes and serve as a model for their patients.”
A longer version of the video and additional radon information are at www.breathingeasier.info.
The video focuses in part on the story of Dr. Richard Williams, a renowned UI urologist, who passed away two years ago from what he considered radon-induced lung cancer. Williams’ goal was to raise awareness among physicians on the issue of radon exposure and its serious health consequences.
George Weiner, M.D., director of Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UI and president of the ICC, says physicians play a vital role in delivering information on radon to their patients.
“We are working intensely on improving cancer early detection and therapy,” Weiner says. “However, prevention may well be the least visible but most effective approach to reducing the burden of cancer.
"In testing my own home, I found radon levels were quite high and had it effectively mitigated,” Weiner says. “Simply testing and mitigating your home can prevent lung cancer caused by radon. It’s a simple message, and one that, as doctors, we must convey to our patients.”
Radon, a naturally occurring gas, can enter homes through cracks in floors, walls, or foundations and collect indoors. The only way to discover if a home has an elevated radon concentration is to test for it. Low-cost test kits are available in hardware and retail stores, or by calling 1-800-SOS-RADON.
“We need physicians and other health care professionals to educate patients about the risk and promote the use of radon test kits,” says Field. “It’s imperative to proactively address this risk factor for lung cancer by measuring radon in homes and, if elevated, taking action to reduce the radon levels. It’s something everyone can and should do—a simple test could quite literally save your life.”
The video was made possible by a grant to Field from the Iowa Cancer Consortium, with supplemental support from the NIEHS-funded Environmental Health Sciences Research Center in the UI College of Public Health.