Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS One. 2015 Mar 19;10(3):e0120717. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0120717. eCollection 2015.

A new approach to reduce uncertainties in space radiation cancer risk predictions.

Author information

Department of Health Physics and Diagnostic Sciences, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States of America.


The prediction of space radiation induced cancer risk carries large uncertainties with two of the largest uncertainties being radiation quality and dose-rate effects. In risk models the ratio of the quality factor (QF) to the dose and dose-rate reduction effectiveness factor (DDREF) parameter is used to scale organ doses for cosmic ray proton and high charge and energy (HZE) particles to a hazard rate for γ-rays derived from human epidemiology data. In previous work, particle track structure concepts were used to formulate a space radiation QF function that is dependent on particle charge number Z, and kinetic energy per atomic mass unit, E. QF uncertainties where represented by subjective probability distribution functions (PDF) for the three QF parameters that described its maximum value and shape parameters for Z and E dependences. Here I report on an analysis of a maximum QF parameter and its uncertainty using mouse tumor induction data. Because experimental data for risks at low doses of γ-rays are highly uncertain which impacts estimates of maximum values of relative biological effectiveness (RBEmax), I developed an alternate QF model, denoted QFγAcute where QFs are defined relative to higher acute γ-ray doses (0.5 to 3 Gy). The alternate model reduces the dependence of risk projections on the DDREF, however a DDREF is still needed for risk estimates for high-energy protons and other primary or secondary sparsely ionizing space radiation components. Risk projections (upper confidence levels (CL)) for space missions show a reduction of about 40% (CL∼50%) using the QFγAcute model compared the QFs based on RBEmax and about 25% (CL∼35%) compared to previous estimates. In addition, I discuss how a possible qualitative difference leading to increased tumor lethality for HZE particles compared to low LET radiation and background tumors remains a large uncertainty in risk estimates.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center