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Chiropractic Research Review

Low-Dose X-Rays May Be the Most Harmful

Human exposure to ionizing radiation is known to cause leukemia, cancer and hereditary diseases through damage to DNA in cell nuclei. Current estimates of cancer risk caused by radiation are based on previous studies of populations exposed to very high doses (e.g., Hiroshima and Nagasaki).

No data on radiation-induced cell damage from lower doses of radiation have been gathered, and many methods utilized to gauge DNA repair actually cause some DNA damage, limiting their sensitivity. It is widely assumed that cellular responses to radiation operate equally effectively at lower or higher doses.

Cultures from primary human lung and skin cells were exposed to varying doses of X-ray radiation, while control cultures were given sham radiation. DNA damage in cultures of primary human cells induced by very low doses of radiation remained unrepaired for multiple days - up to weeks longer than damage from higher radiation doses; this contrasted efficient DNA repair noted at higher doses of radiation.

Conclusion: Low-dose radiation may do more long-lasting cell damage than high-dose radiation. The authors suggest that this may be due to the body not recognizing the damage caused by low radiation doses, and therefore not repairing it. These results contrast the currently accepted models that assume lesions within cells caused by lower X-ray doses are repaired as efficiently (and more quickly) as lesions from higher doses.

Rothkamm K, Löbrich M. Evidence for a lack of DNA double-strand break repair in human cells exposed to very low X-ray doses. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, April 4, 2003. Online only. www.pnas.org

Chiropractic Research Review

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