Method of Calculating Lifetime Risks

Several measures of lifetime risk have been used to express radiation risks and are discussed by Vaeth and Pierce (1990), Thomas and colleagues (1992), UNSCEAR (2000b), and Kellerer and colleagues (2001). The BEIR VII committee has chosen to use what Kellerer and coworkers refer to as the lifetime attributable risk (LAR), which was earlier called the risk of untimely death by Vaeth and Pierce (1990). The LAR is an approximation of the risk of exposure-induced death (REID), the measure used by UNSCEAR (2000b), which estimates the probability that an individual will die from (or develop) cancer associated with the exposure. Although the nomenclature is recent, the LAR was used by the BEIR III committee (1980b) and by the EPA (1994).

The LAR and the REID both differ from the excess lifetime risk (ELR) used by the BEIR V committee in that the former include deaths or incident cases of cancer that would have occurred without exposure but occurred at a younger age because of the exposure. As noted by Thomas and colleagues (1992) and earlier by Pierce and Vaeth (1989), the ratio of ELR to REID is approximately 1 − Qc where Qc is the lifetime risk of dying from the cause of interest. For example, the ELR for all cancer mortality would be about 20% lower than the REID. The LAR differs from the REID in that the survival function used in calculating the LAR does not take account of persons dying of radiation-induced disease, thus simplifying the computations. This difference may be important for estimating risks at higher doses (1+ Sv), but not at the low doses of interest for this report. Kellerer and colleagues show that the REID and the LAR are nearly identical at low doses and discuss other aspects of the LAR compared to the REID.

The LAR for a person exposed to dose D at age e is calculated as follows:


where the summation is from a = e + L to l00, where a denotes attained age (years) and L is a risk-free latent period (L = 5 for solid cancers; L = 2 for leukemia). The M(D, e, a) is the EAR, S(a) is the probability of surviving until age a, and S(a)/S(e) is the probability of surviving to age a conditional on survival to age e. All calculations are sex-specific; thus, the dependence of all quantities on sex is suppressed.

The quantities S(a) were obtained from a 1999 unabridged life table for the U.S. population (Anderson and DeTurk 2002). Lifetime risk estimates using relative risk transport were based on ERR models. For these calculations,

for cancer incidence, and

for cancer mortality. The ERR(D, e, a) was obtained from models shown in Tables 12-1, 12-2, and 12-3. The λIc(a) represents sex- and age-specific 1995–1999 U.S. cancer incidence rates from Surveillance Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) registries, whereas the λMc (a) are sex- and age-specific 1995–1999 U.S. cancer mortality rates (, where c designates the cancer site or category. These rates were available for each 5-year age group with linear interpolation used to develop estimates for single years of age. With the exception of the category “all solid cancers,” the same ERR models were used to estimate both cancer incidence and mortality.

Lifetime risk estimates using absolute risk transport were based on EAR models (see “Transport of Risks from a Japanese to a U.S. Population”). For estimating cancer incidence, M(D, e, a) is taken to be the EAR(D, e, a) based on the models shown in Tables 12-1, 12-2, and 12-3. For estimating mortality from all solid cancers, the EAR mortality model shown in Table 12-1 was used directly. For estimating site-specific cancer mortality, it was necessary to adjust the EAR(D, e, a) from Tables 12-2 and 12-3 by multiplying by λMc (a)/λIc (a), the ratio of the sex- and age-specific mortality and incidence rates for the U.S. population. That is, for site-specific mortality,

Leukemia merits special comment. The approach for deriving incidence and mortality estimates based on relative and absolute risk transport is the same for leukemia as for other site-specific cancers, despite the fact that leukemia models were developed from LSS mortality data rather than incidence data as for other sites. This is because LSS leukemia data were obtained at a time when this disease was nearly always rapidly fatal, so that estimates of leukemia mortality should closely approximate those for leukemia incidence. In the last few decades, however, marked progress has been made in treating leukemia, and the disease is not always fatal. Thus, the committee has used the EAR model shown in Table 12-3 to estimate leukemia incidence, but has adjusted the EAR(D, s, e, a) from Table 12-3 in the manner described above to obtain estimates of leukemia mortality. In all cases, the U.S. leukemia baseline rates were for all leukemias excluding CLL.

Models for leukemia differ from those for solid cancers in that risk is expressed as a function of age at exposure (e) and time since exposure (t) instead of age at exposure and attained age (a). Since t = ae, ERR(D, e, a) or EAR(D, e, a) is obtained by substituting ae for t in the models presented in Table 12-3. Note further that for the period 2–5 years after exposure, the EAR is assumed to be the same as that at 5 years after exposure. That is, for a = e + 2 to e + 5, M(D, e, a) = M(D, e, e + 5).

The approach described above for obtaining estimates based on absolute transport differs from that used by UNSCEAR (2000b) and NIH (2003), where M(D, e, a) for

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