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Dose Response. 2012 Dec;10(4):593-609. doi: 10.2203/dose-response.12-021.Ulsh. Epub 2012 Jul 15.

The new radiobiology: returning to our roots.

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M.H. Chew and Associates.


In 2005, two expert advisory bodies examined the evidence on the effects of low doses of ionizing radiation. The U.S. National Research Council concluded that current scientific evidence is consistent with the linear no-threshold dose-response relationship (NRCNA 2005) while the French National Academies of Science and Medicine concluded the opposite (Aurengo et al. 2005). These contradictory conclusions may stem in part from an emphasis on epidemiological data (a "top down" approach) versus an emphasis on biological mechanisms (a "bottom up" approach). In this paper, the strengths and limitations of the top down and bottom up approaches are discussed, and proposals for strengthening and reconciling them are suggested. The past seven years since these two reports were published have yielded increasing evidence of nonlinear responses of biological systems to low radiation doses delivered at low dose-rates. This growing body of evidence is casting ever more doubt on the extrapolation of risks observed at high doses and dose-rates to estimate risks associated with typical environmental and occupational exposures. This paper compares current evidence on low dose, low dose-rate effects against objective criteria of causation. Finally, some questions for a post-LNT world are posed.


cancer; hormesis; linear no-threshold hypothesis

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