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Wed Nov 14, 2012, 03:34 AM

Even Low-Level Radioactivity Is Damaging, Scientists Conclude

Source: Science Daily

Even the very lowest levels of radiation are harmful to life, scientists have concluded in the Cambridge Philosophical Society's journal Biological Reviews. Reporting the results of a wide-ranging analysis of 46 peer-reviewed studies published over the past 40 years, researchers from the University of South Carolina and the University of Paris-Sud found that variation in low-level, natural background radiation was found to have small, but highly statistically significant, negative effects on DNA as well as several measures of health.

The review is a meta-analysis of studies of locations around the globe that have very high natural background radiation as a result of the minerals in the ground there, including Ramsar, Iran, Mombasa, Kenya, Lodeve, France, and Yangjiang, China. These, and a few other geographic locations with natural background radiation that greatly exceeds normal amounts, have long drawn scientists intent on understanding the effects of radiation on life. Individual studies by themselves, however, have often only shown small effects on small populations from which conclusive statistical conclusions were difficult to draw.

"When you're looking at such small effect sizes, the size of the population you need to study is huge," said co-author Timothy Mousseau, a biologist in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of South Carolina. "Pooling across multiple studies, in multiple areas, and in a rigorous statistical manner provides a tool to really get at these questions about low-level radiation."

Mousseau and co-author Anders Møller of the University of Paris-Sud combed the scientific literature, examining more than 5,000 papers involving natural background radiation that were narrowed to 46 for quantitative comparison. The selected studies all examined both a control group and a more highly irradiated population and quantified the size of the radiation levels for each. Each paper also reported test statistics that allowed direct comparison between the studies.


Read more: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121113134224.htm

31 replies, 4055 views

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Arrow 31 replies Author Time Post
Reply Even Low-Level Radioactivity Is Damaging, Scientists Conclude (Original post)
avaistheone1 Nov 2012 OP
FleetwoodMac Nov 2012 #1
sybylla Nov 2012 #3
daleo Nov 2012 #12
sybylla Nov 2012 #14
daleo Nov 2012 #21
hunter Nov 2012 #19
marions ghost Nov 2012 #2
caraher Nov 2012 #5
marions ghost Nov 2012 #8
PamW Nov 2012 #11
PamW Nov 2012 #9
RobertEarl Nov 2012 #16
bananas Nov 2012 #18
redqueen Nov 2012 #28
Evoman Nov 2012 #4
Zoeisright Nov 2012 #17
Steviehh Nov 2012 #6
PamW Nov 2012 #10
davepdx Nov 2012 #20
toddmiller Nov 2012 #7
caraher Nov 2012 #24
toddmiller Nov 2012 #25
caraher Nov 2012 #26
toddmiller Nov 2012 #27
caraher Nov 2012 #29
preventivePhD Nov 2012 #30
One_Life_To_Give Nov 2012 #13
colorado_ufo Nov 2012 #15
Heywood J Nov 2012 #22
PerceptionManagement Nov 2012 #23
Quantess Nov 2012 #31

Response to avaistheone1 (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 05:38 AM

1. We've seen the effect first hand in Iraq

The U.S. led-NATO bombing campaign in Iraq in 2004, using white phosphorus casings and depleted uranium shells, has caused an incredible increase in newborn cancer and birth defects rates.

This is another reason why President Obama had two win a second term. We had to prevent the neocons from dragging us into another war in the Middle East. This is a crime against humanity, and while we clearly know who the perpetrators are, they will never be held accountable for this. Instead, tens of thousands of innocents will be punished for this.

"American forces later admitted that they had used white phosphorus shells, although they never admitted to using depleted uranium, which has been linked to high rates of cancer and birth defects."


"High rates of miscarriage, toxic levels of lead and mercury contamination and spiralling numbers of birth defects ranging from congenital heart defects to brain dysfunctions and malformed limbs have been recorded."


"The latest study found that in Fallujah, more than half of all babies surveyed were born with a birth defect between 2007 and 2010."


"More than 45 per cent of all pregnancies surveyed ended in miscarriage in the two years after 2004, up from only 10 per cent before the bombing. Between 2007 and 2010, one in six of all pregnancies ended in miscarriage."


"In the past seven years, the number of malformed babies born increased by more than 60 per cent; 37 out of every 1,000 are now born with defects."


http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/iraq-records-huge-rise-in-birth-defects-8210444.html

For those who would like to read the original report, here it is: http://ebookbrowse.com/metal-contamination-and-the-epidemic-of-congenital-birth-pdf-d412767995

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Response to FleetwoodMac (Reply #1)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 07:02 AM

3. Background radiation. Not DU

This study found that slight increases in background radiation have the potential to cause health problems.

Background radiation is the naturally occurring radiation that's all around us no matter where we live. From the sun, outer space and from the earth.

I've not seen this kind of study on the effects of minimal changes to such everyday low levels of exposure.

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Response to sybylla (Reply #3)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 10:53 AM

12. Yes, but if very low levels of background radiation are harmful

Then depleted uranium dust would logically also be harmful, as that substance also results in low levels of background radiation. The fact that DU has been turned into a fine dust by explosions and/or high kinetic energy collisions would enhance the biological effect, via more efficient uptake into organisms (e.g. breathing and entrapment into lung tissue).

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Response to daleo (Reply #12)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 11:09 AM

14. But hadn't that already been proven?

To me, that's why this is news. They simply tracked slight changes in background radiation and found it had some negative effect.

Talking about DU and other forms of radiation on this thread that we've already proven are harmful distracts from the real news of this story. A giant rubberstamp of proof on the harmful effects of all radiation, plus even larger concerns for the effects of background radiation increases due to global warming.

That's all I was saying.

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Response to sybylla (Reply #14)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 09:13 PM

21. Well, this supports danger from low level radiation in general

There are plenty of people who claim DU is harmless because it is only low level radiation.

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Response to FleetwoodMac (Reply #1)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 12:21 PM

19. Uranium is a poisonous heavy metal like mercury or lead.

The radioactivity of uranium is a small side dish of toxicity on a main dish that's already poisonous.

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Response to avaistheone1 (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 06:57 AM

2. Re. Exposures from Nuclear Plants

From the article:

"Mousseau hopes their results, which are consistent with the "linear-no-threshold" model for radiation effects, will better inform the debate about exposure risks. "With the levels of contamination that we have seen as a result of nuclear power plants, especially in the past, and even as a result of Chernobyl and Fukushima and related accidents, there's an attempt in the industry to downplay the doses that the populations are getting, because maybe it's only one or two times beyond what is thought to be the natural background level," he said. "But they're assuming the natural background levels are fine."

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Response to marions ghost (Reply #2)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 07:52 AM

5. I thought that comment was potentially misleading

I suppose it depends on who "they" are. Regulators have always applied the linear no threshold model this study supports in setting standards and evaluating risks. Radiation protection professionals actually just got their working assumptions validated.

At the same time, there are some who have been plugging, in the media, the notion of a threshold or even that low-levels have beneficial effects, both of which have some scientific plausibility but weak evidence. I think it is appropriate to use background levels as a way of putting increased risks in perspective; but it's wrong to imply that exposures at or below background levels imply zero risk.

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Response to caraher (Reply #5)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 08:46 AM

8. OK

so all levels of radiation carry some risk. Since we know the effects are cumulative, that's where the lies come in IMO, when they argue that some low-level exposure is not harmful.

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Response to marions ghost (Reply #8)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 10:51 AM

11. Actually...

The latest science has shown the mechanism of the low-level threshold.

Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have actually seen the process of the DNA radiation damage repair mechanism:

http://newscenter.lbl.gov/news-releases/2011/12/20/low-dose-radiation/

When radiation damages DNA in a cell, the cell's repair mechanism goes into action and sets up locations where damage is repaired.

If there is only one damaged DNA strand at the site; then the repair works perfectly because the DNA can only be put back together one way. It's as if the strands were like a child's toy where pieces snap together with snap connectors. The child can't put it together wrong because you have male / female connectors that only go together one way. DNA is like that.

However, if the radiation damage is high enough; there may be two DNA strands that need repair at a given site. That leaves open the possibility for the strands to get "cross-connected"; and that's how you get a cancer.

However, the radiation dose has to be high enough to have 2 damaged strands at the repair sites; and that determines the threshold.

PamW



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Response to caraher (Reply #5)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 10:38 AM

9. WRONG!!!

caraher,

LNT was NOT validated. In fact, we know that LNT can't be correct since there is a DNA radiation damage repair mechanism.

Health Physicists know that LNT is wrong; but use it for developing regulations since it over-predicts the effects and is thus conservative. That's fine for making regulations.

However, if you are actually exposed to radiation, a Health Physicist will NOT use LNT to estimate your risks.

Recent results from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggest that low level radiation exposure is LESS harmful than previously estimated:

http://newscenter.lbl.gov/news-releases/2011/12/20/low-dose-radiation/

“Our data show that at lower doses of ionizing radiation, DNA repair mechanisms work much better than at higher doses,” says Mina Bissell, a world-renowned breast cancer researcher with Berkeley Lab’s Life Sciences Division. “This non-linear DNA damage response casts doubt on the general assumption that any amount of ionizing radiation is harmful and additive.”

PamW

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Response to PamW (Reply #9)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 11:41 AM

16. Thanks, Pam

Yes, we all know that low doses of naturally occurring radiation are something life has adapted to. However, it is still damaging to life. Its just that life has adapted using DNA repair mechanisms.

Our problem is math.
First we have the low levels that life has adapted to using DNA repair mechanisms.

Now we are constantly adding more radiation leading to higher doses. And like you say, DNA repair mechanisms do NOT work much better at higher doses.

Call it natural if you like. I do not. Whatever. What we do have is higher background doses today than what we had 50 years ago. And we will continue to have higher and higher doses for the rest of our lives.

The question is: Can Life as we know it adapt?

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Response to caraher (Reply #5)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 12:18 PM

18. "there's an attempt in the industry to downplay the doses that the populations are getting"

The author wasn't being misleading - the nuclear industry and it's cheerleaders are.

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Response to bananas (Reply #18)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 11:24 AM

28. +1

Your username is so amusing in this context, due to the ubiquitous 'but bananas!' pro-nuke rhetoric going around after the initial Fukushima disaster.

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Response to avaistheone1 (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 07:09 AM

4. Well, this makes me feel fantastic about all the radiation I'm getting for my cancer.

Radiation for the tumour and shitload of CT scans and X-rays.

I am not doubt going to lead a long and healthy life.

Sigh.

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Response to Evoman (Reply #4)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 12:05 PM

17. Please don't think that.

My husband had chemo and radiation for cancer 28 years ago and he's perfectly healthy today. The body is very good at healing itself.

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Response to avaistheone1 (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 08:02 AM

6. Low level radiation

I was told by several scientist at Los Alamos that low level radiation is dangerous because it stays in the body. High level radiation just punches through tissue, but low level stays in the body. It is the most dangerous kind.

Don't get me started on "expended" uranium ammunition. Tragedy unfolding now.

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Response to Steviehh (Reply #6)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 10:44 AM

10. You understood wrong.

Steviehh,

You understood wrong! If you are talking about "radiation" - that doesn't "stay" in the body.

There are three types of radiation; alpha radiation is high energy alpha particles or Helium-4 nuclei. beta radiation is electrons, and gammas are high energy photons.

Alpha particles deposit their energy in the tissue; and then "stay" in the body as harmless Helium.
Beta particles also deposit their energy in the tissue and attach themselves to some atom.
Gammas are absorbed, thus depositing their energy.

So the radiation doesn't "stay" in the body irradiating you.

Radioactivity, on the other hand; is material that is unstable and can continue to emit radiation. Radioactive material can stay in the body.

However, the most recent research says that low-level radiation is not as damaging as we once thought.

PamW

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Response to Steviehh (Reply #6)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 01:22 PM

20. The higher the energy the photon, the greater the chance

that it will not be absorbed by body tissue and will penetrate surrounding tissues and escape the body. The lower the energy the photon is, the higher the chance that it will be absorbed by the body and not escape the body undegraded*. Steviehh, I'm reading a bit into what you wrote but I suspect that there was a failure of the explanation provided to you. I *think* you are possibly confusing "low level radiation" with "low energy radiation" involving gamma rays and/or x-rays. For any given single photon, the lower the energy level (measured in kiloelectron Volts, keV) of that photon (x-ray or gamma ray), the greater the chance that the photon will be absorbed by body tissue. As the energy level (keV) of the photon increases, the greater the chance that it will pass through or penetrate the body tissue.

In diagnostic studies performed in nuclear medicine a radioactive pharmaceutical is administered to a patient, usually by IV injection or oral administration. At the appropriate time when the radiopharmaceutical has localized where it is supposed to go in the body then imaging is performed. Three examples of photon energy level (keV) and the penetrating power when imaged by a "standard" gamma camera used in nuclear medicine facilities:

1. Iodine-125 produces a 35 keV photon - energy level too low to image with because it is absorbed by the body and not enough undegraded photons escape that are undegraded to allow for imaging. Most of the 35 keV photons will be absorbed by body tissues and won't escape the body. It is not used for nuclear medicine imaging that I know about.

2. Technetium-99m produces a 140 keV photon - has an "ideal" imaging energy because such a large flux of undegraded photons escape the body which can then be detected by a gamma camera. There is a relatively high efficiency of external detection by a gamma camera. This is the "sweet spot" where the energy level of the isotope is great enough so that enough photons penetrate and escape the body while being low enough in energy to be easily detected and used for imaging purposes.

3. Flourine-18 produces a pair of 512 keV photons (positrons) that while readily detected by specialized (and much more expensive) positron detector (PET) systems are not detected efficiently by the routine type of gamma camera found in community hospitals. The standard grade hospital gamma camera detectors, while highly efficient in detecting 140 keV photons are not efficient enough to detect 512 keV photons.

The description I provided only refers to the relationship of the energy level of a gamma ray and its ability to penetrate tissues and/or the body. The description I've written does not address radiation doses either but rather just the penetrating "power" of a gamma ray.

I am not saying that high energy photons do not interact with body tissues. They do to some degree and do produce ionization which is the source of cell damage. What I am trying to say is that the probability of a gamma ray penetrating body tissues and escaping the body increases as the initial energy level of the photon increases.

* Undegraded means that the photon has not interacted with tissues and therefore none of its energy has been imparted to any tissue or other media - it has escaped without depositing any of its energy to any tissue. For example, if a 140 keV photon is undegraded it it does not "crash into" a body cell and departs any of its energy (which produces ionization) to that cell.

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Response to avaistheone1 (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 08:09 AM

7. Also explains counties in the US with lowest life expectancies

Also, helps to explain low-life-expectancies in Mississippi counties with radium in their water.

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Response to toddmiller (Reply #7)

Thu Nov 15, 2012, 01:47 PM

24. That's far from clear

Last edited Mon Nov 26, 2012, 12:43 PM - Edit history (2)

Even if you take the author of your link at face value in blaming poor water quality, it's not clear that radium is the most important, or even a very important, contributor to low life expectancy. In fact, since life expectancy figures are dominated by causes of death for the very young, early deaths matter most. But the diseases associated with radium ingestion typically take years to develop.

Inhaled or ingested radium increases the risk of developing such diseases as lymphoma, bone cancer, and diseases that affect the formation of blood, such as leukemia and aplastic anemia. These effects usually take years to develop.


It's very unlikely that all radium-caused cases of those diseases, combined, account for the low life expectancy in Mississippi, especially when one considers that many (and probably most) of them come from other factors.

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Response to caraher (Reply #24)

Thu Nov 15, 2012, 06:26 PM

25. That's far from clear

First, the author is citing research evidence. Click on the links about water quality in the article or google recent news. Radium does contribute to mortality.

Second, life-expectancy is not dominated by youth deaths. I believe you're thinking of years of life lost which is dominated by youth deaths.

Third, if you read the article carefully it shows that leukemias are up in these counties which would suggest, according to your own logic, that some of the decreased life-expectancy is a result of radium.

Fourth, your moving the goal posts. I only said radium is a contributing factor which it is. Your claiming I said it was everything which isn't what I said.

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Response to toddmiller (Reply #25)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 12:30 AM

26. "Also explains counties in the US with lowest life expectancies"

No goalposts were moved - I was responding mainly to the title of your post, which clearly suggests that the radioactivity "explains the counties" with lowest life expectancies. "explains" is a far stronger term than "is a contributing factor;" that I would agree with. I am not claiming radium causes no mortality, only that there's no evidence that elevated radium level, among all the water quality and other factors, causes enough to "explain" which counties have the lowest life expectancies.

Regarding life expectancy, there's a potential ambiguity; since you don't specify life expectancy at what age, I assumed you meant ife expectancy at birth (the most commonly cited figure). And that is dominated by infant mortality.

Life expectancy and years of life lost are two ways of measuring essentially the same thing. If environmental factors result in, say, an average of 5 years of life lost, then for that population the life expectancy would be 5 years less than what it would have been absent those factors.

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Response to caraher (Reply #26)


Response to toddmiller (Reply #27)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 12:39 PM

29. I think I've been here long enough to know what "works"

And I not only read the link you provided but links within the links to see whether the they claim what your post suggested. They don't. I invite anyone else who cares to do the same.

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Response to caraher (Reply #29)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 05:01 PM

30. I read the links and your wrong and miller is correct

As an expert in Preventive Medicine its clear that miller is correct and your incorrect about everything you assert. Claiming the links don't support his contentions is simply not the case. In fact, one of the links was written by Dr. Miller and as a public health expert I'm quite familiar with data and Mr. Miller's data in the articles matches the government data. They all strongly support his case.

Also miller is correct about what he states that about what effects life-expectancy.

From the CDC http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00056796.htm

Historical biggest contributors to life expectancy are



Vaccination

Motor-vehicle safety

Safer workplaces

Control of infectious diseases

Decline in deaths from coronary heart disease and stroke

Safer and healthier foods

Healthier mothers and babies

Family planning

Fluoridation of drinking water

Recognition of tobacco use as a health hazard


Your claims about infant mortality relate have been debunked in the following article entitled "Don't Fall Prey to Propaganda: Life Expectancy and Infant Mortality are Unreliable Measures for Comparing the U.S. Health Care System to Others by David Hogberg, Ph.D. "
http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA547ComparativeHealth.html

Your assertion isn't accurate unless you claim that abortion is a death which you didn't and even that claim is false because abortion occurs before life expectancy charts begin at age 0.

Another way to look at life-expectancy is what predicts it and smoking is the number one predictor. Infant factors are not in the top 10. http://healthland.time.com/2009/12/02/u-s-life-expectancy-impact-of-smoking-and-obesity/

What you mean by been here long enough to know how this works means.


You also claim that life-expectancy and years of life lost are about the same thing. That's factually incorrect.
Life-expectancy is how long are expected to live based on risk factors (e.g., smoking). Years of life lost is how many years of life lost based on a particular disease. For example, AIDS has a very high value for years of life lost because its associated with young people while heart disease which is a bigger contributor to life-expectancy is associated with a much lower years of life lost so the two indicators really measure completely different things.

You also claimed you didn't move the goal post. You did. "Moving the goal post" is a reference to a logical fallacy. You claimed you based your decision on what you read in the title and not the post or the links within the post one of which was written by miller so that also refutes your claim that the links don't support his own arguments is clearly inaccurate.

Why I'm so offended by all of this is miller's article is one of only a handful that points out that the media got it wrong when it claimed that obesity is causing these people to die when clearly their poor water quality and lack of health insurance are known risk factors for lowering your life-expectancy.

Obesity is a funny risk factor because its predictive power gets washed out when thing like cholesterol and diabetes are taken into consideration. As noted in the article, diabetes treatment in these areas is extraordinarily poor which probably also contributes to there life-expectancy.

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Response to avaistheone1 (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 10:57 AM

13. There goes the SouthWest



Looks like RI thru southern ME as well.

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Response to avaistheone1 (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 11:19 AM

15. Fortunately the French

have learned to counteract the effects with drinking and smoking.

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Response to avaistheone1 (Original post)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 09:29 PM

22. If you're talking about doses as low as natural background level,

then I guess most of us have a problem.



They're required in many bedrooms now.

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Response to avaistheone1 (Original post)

Thu Nov 15, 2012, 06:07 AM

23. Ann Coulter: Radiation Is 'Good For You'

"A Glowing Report On Radiation," Coulter said that many scientists have been studying the effects of radiation and have found that, as she put it," at some level--much higher than the minimums set by the U.S. government--radiation is good for you," and actually reduced the risk of cancer.

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Response to avaistheone1 (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 02:31 PM

31. K & R

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