The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it. ... In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act. George Orwell

Friday, May 21, 2010

Gamma radiation protects against cancer, in low doses?

Cancer mortality reduction by 97% - huge!  Is it true?  Hormesis?

  "Effects of Cobalt-60 Exposure on Health of Taiwan Residents Suggest New Approach Needed in Radiation Protection",   W.L. Chen et al.,   Dose Response. 2007; 5(1): 63–75


... serendipitous contamination of 1700 apartments in Taiwan with cobalt-60 (T1/2 = 5.3 y). This experience indicates that chronic exposure of the whole body to low-dose-rate radiation, even accumulated to a high annual dose, may be beneficial to human health. Approximately 10,000 people occupied these buildings and received an average radiation dose of 0.4 Sv, unknowingly, during a 9-20 year period. They did not suffer a higher incidence of cancer mortality, as the LNT theory would predict. On the contrary, the incidence of cancer deaths in this population was greatly reduced-to about 3 per cent of the incidence of spontaneous cancer death in the general Taiwan public. In addition, the incidence of congenital malformations was also reduced - to about 7 per cent of the incidence in the general public. These observations appear to be compatible with the radiation hormesis model.

   Figure 1 from the same paper.  Click to magnify and hires.

More readings:

1. by D.W.Miller, MD:  Afraid of Radiation

2.  Keeping the Lights On

3. by William R. Ware, Ph.D.:  Low-Dose Radiation Exposure and Risk of Cancer

4. Caroline Hadley: "What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger", Nature, EMBO reports   VOL 4 | NO 10 | 2003

5. Bernard L. Cohen: "Test of linear no threshold theory of radiation carcinogenesis for inhaled radon decay products", University of Pittsburgh 1994

Fig 1a from Cohen's paper 

To annoy anti-nuclear environuts:    Letter... 

More refs added (02-Mar-2011):

6.  Rheumatology 2000;39:894–902;
"Long-term efficacy of radon spa therapy in rheumatoid arthritis—a randomized, sham-controlled study and follow-up"

7. Int.J.Low Radiation,Vol.1,No.4,2005; "Nuclear shipyard worker study (1980–1988): a large cohort exposed to low-dose-rate gamma radiation"

see also John Cameron's (one of the study author) write-up here


In 1980, the US Department of Energy (DOE) gave a contract to the School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University to study radiation risks to nuclear shipyard workers. This study, which extended for more than a decade, cost the taxpayers $10 million. This was the World's best epidemiological study of nuclear workers. The study has yet to be published more than 12 years after its completion in early 1988.
The reader may think that the nuclear shipyard study is contradicted by other human studies. I know of no contradictory studies. One other radiation worker study--the British radiologists study. (Smith and Doll 1981)-- also looked at the death rate from all causes. It gives results consistent with NSWS. (Table 2.)



dav0 said...

Living in Taiwan almost 7 years now and hoping that my building has some of that Cobalt 60 in the rebar :-)

Stan (Heretic) said...

Hi Dave,

What I find strange is that nobody spoke about that effect, even as a hypothesis! It appears that the academic institutions and government have totally sided with the environmentalists to kill nuclear industry. I wonder why?

dav0 said...

Perhaps they really are looking forward to a cold and dark future.

Stan (Heretic) said...

[rant=ON] I think they the environmentalists represent a "monkey" portion of the human psyche. Obsession about the environment - a belief that their survival depends on the external environmental factors rather then on their own skills (which they lack or under-appreciate); fear of change, overemphasizing the role of consensus, uncritical attitude towards their own group leadership, herd-like behavior, un-awarness of the connection between work and wealth.

LeonRover said...

Dave and Stan

This CO-60 study is just MARVELOUS!

Background radiation, whether generated from cosmic rays or earth occurring nuclear isotopes, has always been with us. We with a modest technical education have known this forever! In addition, biologists have have found out that are repair mechanisms within biological materials, whether plant, animal or human which fix damage done by radiation.

Nonetheless, the myth is widespread that there is NO SAFE level of radiation.

From this has grown the notion that is no safe threshold level of organic or inorganic material which has been shown to be toxic in large quantities ( for e.g Splenda), contradicting Claude Bernard's Principle" :Tout est poison, rien n'est poison, tout est est une question de dose - everything is poisonous, nothing is poisonous, it is all a matter of dose. (We certainly know one can get water poisoning and also die from too little!) Vaccination would never have been invented, under such a rule.

It has also led to invocation of the so-called "Precuationary Principle", according to which, one should not do something because a tiny amount of some substance has NOT been "shown to be safe long-term". This recently led for example to European airlines being closed down for fear of Icelandic Volcanic ash.


Stan (Heretic) said...

Hi LeonRover,
Welcome to the blog!

The study is not only marvelous but also shocking (to me). I am a physicist but were never told or shown that there is a beneficial low level of radiation! It was almost like one of those theories that one was not supposed to question except worse - I wasn`t even aware that a controversy existed.

We have learned a lesson during that fat-cholesterol-CHD-lowcarb saga, namely that the official scientific establishment cannot be trusted. Radiation is yet one more "straw" (out of many) breaking my confidence in mainstream scientific establishment.


Brandon said...

Thanks for the links. "Keeping the Lights On" was one of the most interesting things I've read all year.

I've seen some similar evidence that long-term chronic sun exposure (sunbathing) reduces cancer mortality, provided you don't overdo it at each dose. Definitely not what you'd hear from the mainstream.

Love the blog. Thanks for all your efforts!