Sergei V. Jargin



Low-dose Ionizing Radiation: Overestimation of Effects and Overtreatment

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This article is a narrative review. The systematic approach is hardly applicable if more and less reliable data are intermingled due to bias, conflicts of interest, political and economical motives. The motives to overestimate Chernobyl consequences included financing, international help and cooperation. Certain writers exaggerating medical and ecological consequences of anthropogenic increase in the radiation background contribute to a strangulation of atomic energy. This is in the interests of fossil fuel producers. Nuclear power has returned to the agenda because of the concerns about energy demand and climate changes. Health burdens are the greatest for power stations based on coal and oil. The burdens are lower for natural gas and still lower for atomic energy. The same ranking applies to the greenhouse gas emissions and hence probably for the climate change. Among limitations of epidemiological studies are the dose-dependent selection and self-selection. It can be reasonably assumed that people knowing their higher doses would be more motivated to undergo medical checkups being at the same time given more attention. Therefore, diagnostics is on the average more efficient in people with higher doses. In this connection the literature on the post-Chernobyl thyroid and renal cancer, urinary bladder, cataracts and other lesions is reviewed here. Results of some Chernobyl-related studies should be re-interpreted, taking into account that many cancers found by the screening during the first decade after the accident, or brought from non-contaminated areas and recorded as Chernobyl victims, were in fact advanced neglected malignancies. The misinterpretation of such tumors as aggressive radiogenic cancers should not mislead towards overtreatment. Examples of the overtreatment are reviewed here. Ionizing radiation is a known carcinogen but there is no evidence of carcinogenicity below a certain level. Apparently, living organisms have adapted to the natural radiation background. The background has been decreasing during the time of life existence. The screening effect and increased attention of exposed people to their own health will probably result in new reports on the enhanced cancer and other health risks in areas with an elevated natural or anthropogenic radiation background. This will prove no causality. A promising approach to the research of dose-response relationships are lifelong animal experiments.


Ionizing radiation, Chernobyl accident, East Urals radioactive trace, cancer


Cite this paper

Sergei V. Jargin . (2022) Low-dose Ionizing Radiation: Overestimation of Effects and Overtreatment. International Journal of Environmental Science, 7, 37-55


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