After the 1956 radiation scare to stop weapons testing, studies focused on cancer induction by low-level radiation.
Since longevity is a measure of health impact, this analysis reexamined data to compare the effect of dose rate on the lifespans of short-lived (5% and 10% mortality) dogs and on the lifespans of dogs at 50% mortality. The data came from 2 large-scale studies. One exposed 10 groups to different γ dose rates; the other exposed 8 groups to different lung burdens of plutonium
Reexamination indicated that normalized lifespans increased more for short-lived dogs than for average dogs, when radiation was moderately above background.
The optimum lifespan increase appeared at 50 mGy/y.
The threshold for harm (decreased lifespan) was 700 mGy/y for 50% mortality dogs and 1100 mGy/y for short-lived dogs.
For inhaled α-emitting particulates, longevity was remarkably increased for short-lived dogs below the threshold for harm.
Short-lived dogs seem more radiosensitive than average dogs and they benefit more from low radiation.
If dogs model humans, this evidence would support a change to radiation protection policy. Maintaining exposures “as low as reasonably achievable” (ALARA) appears questionable
Many studies have been carried out on the effects of ionizing radiation on organisms over the past 120 years. The overall effects are well known at high doses. At high and low doses, the detailed cell response mechanisms are complicated and may involve all levels of biological organization.
About 75% of the human body is water, and a principal effect of radiation is the creation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), including hydrogen peroxide.
They are a double-edged sword. Depending on their concentrations, they may cause damage or signaling in terms of stress responses. Moreover, ROS are produced abundantly and constantly by aerobic metabolism. Most studies focus on harmful effects, mainly risks of cancer, because of the low-level radiation scare that was introduced in 1956 to stop nuclear weapon testing and proliferation
The government regulators, worldwide, accepted the recommendation of the US National Academy of Sciences in 1956 that the risk of radiation-induced genetic mutations can be assessed using a linear no-threshold (LNT) model.
“Radiation exposure has never been demonstrated to cause hereditary effects in human populations”; however, there is evidence for X-rays and nuclear radiations to cause mutations in cells, which may contribute to the risk of cancer.
Studies on experimental living systems and on humans have shown, depending on the individual genome, that low doses of radiation upregulate many biological protective mechanisms, which also operate against nonradiogenic toxins and produce beneficial effects, including a lower risk of cancer.
Still, most regulators uniquely employ the LNT model to estimate the risk of radiation-induced cancer deaths. After considering the health consequences of the precautionary evacuations following the 2011 nuclear accident in Japan and the impacts of the radiation scare on the economy, it has become obvious that the society is paying a very high price because of public fear of low-dose radiation
For more than a century, extensive studies have been carried out on the effects of radiation, which demonstrate that
- harmful effects, such as radiation illness, may arise after exposures above known threshold dose levels, whereas
- a range of beneficial effects may be observed following low-dose exposures.
Although there appears to be an awareness among the prominent leaders of the radiation protection establishment that radiation protection policy contradicts this biological evidence; there is a very broad consensus among them that it is impossible to attribute health effects to low radiation exposures, namely to exposures similar to the wide spectrum of background levels.
This opinion does not consider the recent progress in biological research on the mechanisms that underlay the fact that living organisms are “complex adaptive systems.”
In radiation protection, the words “health effects” imply radiation-induced fatal cancer incidence that is calculated using the LNT model.
The “health effects” of background radiation are small when compared to the average incidence of cancer deaths (less than 1 in 40 deaths) and, therefore, cannot be demonstrated due to large statistical uncertainties.
DNA alterations (damage) occur at a very high rate due to endogenous causes. To stay alive in a hard-to-avoid environment of multiple toxic impacts, all organisms have powerful protective mechanisms that prevent, repair, or remove damage in and to cells.
Surviving cells continue to accumulate endogenous and exogenous mutations and may become cancer cells. These may be detected and destroyed by the immune system to prevent the development and spread of cancer.
A weakened or impaired immune system is usually a precondition for cancer mortality.
Since low doses of radiation stimulate many protective systems, including the immune system, it is very unlikely that low-level radiation causes more damage than benefit. Indeed, as damage propagation to molecules and cells from low doses can hardly be observed, protective mechanisms can be seen readily and be quantified.
Regulatory disregard of the biological evidence of beneficial health effects leaves lingering fear and uncertainty about cancer risks that sustain the risk assessment community.
It restricts many medical applications of X-rays in diagnostic imaging and low-dose therapy. It blocks social acceptance of the nuclear energy option through fear of exposure to radioactive materials from power plants and waste management sites.
When people increasingly question whether low levels or low doses of radiation are really harmful, protection practitioners argue that “radiation-sensitive individuals” exist who are more vulnerable than average people to potential “health effects” and must be protected.
This concern about protecting sensitive individuals and the suggestion that longevity may be the most appropriate measure of the effect of radiation on health led to this examination of the effect of dose rate on the lifespans of dogs.
Alzheimer disease (AD) primarily affects older adults. This neurodegenerative disorder is the most common cause of dementia and is a leading source of their morbidity and mortality.
This case report describes the remarkable improvement in a patient with advanced AD in hospice who received 5 computed tomography scans of the brain, about 40 mGy each, over a period of 3 months.
The mechanism appears to be radiation-induced upregulation of the patient’s adaptive protection systems against AD, which partially restored cognition, memory, speech, movement, and appetite.
Update on a Patient With Alzheimer Disease Treated With CT Scans – free full-text PMC5347268 – 2017 Feb
This letter updates the April 2016 case report about an 81-year-old patient who was in the final stages of advanced Alzheimer disease (AD) in hospice care.
A neuropsychologist examined her on May 21, 2015, and concluded that she was “completely nonresponsive.”
Following treatment by 4 computed tomography (CT) scans of the brain from July to August 2015, the patient made a remarkable recovery.
A fifth scan on October 1 caused a setback, from which she gradually recovered.
On November 20, she was judged to be no longer eligible for hospice care because her condition was sufficiently improved.
Since then, she has participated in a stimulating, dementia day care program.
A century ago, physicians who employed x-rays to image and diagnose illnesses discovered important remedies using low doses: it was linked to treatment for everything from boils and carbuncles to asthma and arthritis. Low radiation doses eliminated cancer metastases and delayed the progression of cancer.
The mechanism of action is now understood that low-dose radiation stimulated the patient’s own protection systems. High doses inhibit them.
Yet many consider even low dose radiation to be harmful now. Some groups even insist cell phones can cause cancer, though they don’t have ionizing radiation at all. What changed?
One reason radiation therapy fell out of favor was the availability of antibiotics but a second, and more important, factor was efforts to stop atomic bomb development. In 1946, Nobel laureate Herman Muller gave the acceptance lecture which set the stage for adopting the linear dose-response model(4) and in 1956 a radiation scare gave the National Academy of Sciences, armed with a number of publications sympathetic to the beliefs of Muller, all the reason they needed.
The scare linked all human radiation exposure to an increased risk of genetic mutations (and cancer) but radiation exposure has still never been demonstrated to cause hereditary effects in humans. No statistically significant low-dose data support the cancer scare, and there is much scientific evidence that contradicts it. For example, a new paper presents evidence that lifelong low dose rates increase lifespan.
Given the very high (and increasing) costs of patient care, it is time to study these potential treatments and resume proven low-dose remedies.
The following are anecdotes but make my point about a rethink of the linear dose-response model.
In April 2015, a colleague informed me that his 81-year-old wife, having advanced Alzheimer disease and a short life expectancy, entered hospice care. I suggested treating her with low doses of x-rays. The only option available was CT scans to image her brain. The first treatment on July 23 was 2 scans. Two days later, her caregiver reported: “It is amazing. I have never seen someone improve this much. She wanted to get up and walk. She was talking some, with more sense, and she was feeding herself again
Recovery continued, following the scans on August 6 and 20 though a major setback occurred right after the October 1 scan. Overall, her resilience led to a return of her cognitive ability, and in late November she was discharged from hospice to a stimulating day care program.
In anticipation that the improvement might be temporary, booster scans were started on February 24, 2016. The interval between scans is now about 6 weeks
This colleague has Parkinson Disease, which is also neurodegenerative. After seeing his wife’s improvement, he asked for the same treatment. The first CT scan, on October 6, completely eliminated the tremor during his sleep, and he decreased his medication from 6 to 2 or 3 pills (Carbidopa/levodopa, 25/100 mg) per day.
Commentary on Fukushima and Beneficial Effects of Low Radiation – free full-text PMC3834738 – Dose Response. 2013 Nov;
Approximately 160,000 people evacuated the area around the Fukushima Dai-ichi NPP shortly after it was damage by the earthquake and tsunami. The evacuation order applied to 70,000 of them, while the other 90,000 left voluntarily and returned soon afterward.
After more than two years, most of the 70,000 are still not allowed to return to their homes. The 1100 disaster-related deaths caused by the evacuation order show that this pre-cautionary action, taken to minimize cancer risks, was not “conservative.”
In this paper, recent studies are reviewed on the consequences of the radioactive releases and on the benefits of many medical treatments with low doses of radiation that were carried out until the 1950s, before the radiation scare was created.
Recent research has shed light on the high rate of spontaneous double-strand breaks in DNA and the adaptive protections in cells, tissues and humans that are up-regulated by low radiation.
These defences prevent, repair, remove and replace damage, from all causes including external agents. Cancer mortality is reduced.
The ICRP’s concept of radiation risk is wrong. It should revert to its 1934 concept, which was a tolerance dose of 0.2 roentgen (r) per day based on more than 35 years of medical experience.
I’m not sure that using radiation for healing is as simple and straightforward as these articles make it seem. There are always side-effects, though they may be worth the gains if we know what they are.
These articles all seem to be making a political statement as well, similar to how the first people studying the benefits of cannabis had to fight to show benefits and not just harms like they are doing with opioids today.
Some people find radiation helpful for pain: Each year, hundreds of desperate patients seek relief from extreme pain in Montana’s retired uranium mines.
For those of us descending into disability from chronic pain that isn’t treated effectively, this could be worth a try.