The National Academy of Sciences report, "Biologic Effects of Ionizing Radiation VII," published in 2006, is the seventh in a series concerning radiation health effects. It states that "a comprehensive review of available data supports a 'linear-no-threshold' (LNT) risk model - that the risk of cancer proceeds in a linear fashion at lower doses without a threshold and that the smallest dose has the potential to cause a small increase in risk to humans."
When it was written, knowledgeable experts on the effects of ionizing radiation knew, or should have known, that there were at least four recent published studies which indicated that low doses of ionizing radiation can have positive rather than negative effects. Furthermore, there are at least 2,000 articles on radiation hormesis, the concept that small doses are good for you, in the scientific literature. The suppression of important information capable of improving the health of Americans is reminiscent of the federal Food and Drug Administration's suppression of information about the value of large doses of supplemental vitamins.
Presently, unwarranted fears about the consequences of the Fukushima disaster are being raised by well meaning medical professionals who accept BEIR VII at face value and do not know about these studies. They may also be unaware of the well kept secret of radiation hormesis which may be the greatest discovery in medical technology in the 20th century. Knowledge of the results of these studies should reduce the fears of Americans and Canadians that the Fukushima nuclear disaster is adversely affecting their children.
All Americans need to know about the results of an extensive and expensive Environmental Protection Agency-funded ecological study of the effects of exposure to radon on lung cancer. It was intended to provide data to validate the LNT hypothesis and convert it into a theory. Radon levels in homes and lung cancer death rates were collected from 1,700 counties, 90 percent of the United States, by Prof. Bernard Cohen of the University of Pittsburgh. He spent about two years trying to make his correlation agree with the linear-no-threshold hypothesis. Finding this impossible, he was forced to conclude that increasing radon exposure (between 2 and 20 mSv per year) in homes in the United States resulted in decreasing lung cancer death rates instead of the opposite, as required by the LNT risk model. The results of his study were published in Health Physics in 1995 (1) - 10 years before BEIR VII.
Another study of the effects of radiation from fluoroscopic examinations of Canadian women being treated for tuberculosis showed a minimum in breast cancer deaths at about 150 mSv per year. (2)
A study of the effects of gamma radiation on risk of lung cancer in mice revealed an optimum dose of 250 mSv per year. (3)
A most convincing study on the beneficial effects of low-dose, whole-body radiation was published in 2004. (4) Fourteen eminent Taiwanese scientists reported that about 10,000 people living in a group of apartment buildings for up to 20 years, and absorbing about 40 mSv per year from steel girders containing radioactive cobalt, had experienced a decreasing cancer death rate. They averaged 3.5 deaths per 100,000 person years while the general population experienced an increasing cancer death rate which averaged 116 per 100,000 person years. Congenital defects of children born in these apartments were also lower. There were only three versus an expected 46.
Recently Dr. Arthur Robinson, president of the Oregon Institute of Science and Technology, formerly a colleague of Nobel laureate Linus Pauling, stated, "Since about 20 percent of Americans die from cancer, the potential health benefits of ionizing radiation are enormous. By maintaining standards based on the discredited LNT hypothesis of radiation damage, the EPA is effectively killing Americans with cancer. The spreading of fear of radiation and strict governmental controls on possession of low-level radioactive materials may qualify for consideration as actions of technological genocide." (5)
For physicians who wish to have an authoritative source of information about the health effects of radiation, there is Dr. T.D. Luckey's book, "Radiation Hormesis." Ed Hiserodt's book, "Underexposed," provides an overview written for the general public. My book, "Suppressed Medical Science," has a chapter with information on health effects of radiation.
Why haven't you heard about the beneficial effects of low levels of ionizing radiation? Could it be because we have laws and regulations which support a radon-removal industry? Could it be that owners of conventional power plants use fear of radiation to prevent construction of new nuclear plants because they can't compete with low-cost electricity from them? Could it be that radiation's ability to cure cancer would reduce profits of our 100-year-old medical monopoly?
Jack Phillips lives in Saranac Lake.
1. Cohen, B.L. (1995) Health Physics, 68, pp. 157-174
2. Miller, A.B., Sherman, G.L., et al (1989) New England Journal of Medicine, 321, pp. 1285-1289
3. Ulrich, R.L. and Storer, J.B. (1979) Radiation Research, 80, pp. 317-324
4. Chen, W.N., et al, (2004) J. Am. Phys. Surg., 9, No. 1, Spring, pp. 6-10
5. Robinson, A., (2011) Access to Energy, V. 38, No. 10