Nuclear Radiation Risk Impacts One Group Far More Than Any Other4 min read
Young girls may be up to ten times more susceptible to radioactive radiation than other members of society. They are up to five times more likely than boys their age to acquire cancer.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, knowledge of the harm presented by radiation exposure has gained significant traction in the public discourse. Since then, there has been a simmering nuclear war talk. On October 6, President Joe Biden raised the specter of “Armageddon”. Despite the United States having no fresh information that Russian President Vladimir Putin was preparing for a nuclear attack.
When American atomic bombs were dropped on the Japanese cities in 1945. A biologist and the project’s originator Mary Olson said, “In Hiroshima and Nagasaki, many, many people were vaporized immediately.”
“But there were places where people did survive. Those are the people who are being studied now.”
In order to evaluate the long-term effects of radiation exposure on the human body. Regulatory organizations and researchers from all over the world frequently use data gathered from the long-term study of Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing survivors.
Today, the U.S Nuclear Regulatory Commission relies on a subset of data. That describes the “Reference Man” to inform its assessments of the public’s exposure to ionizing radiation. Consequently, its choices about nuclear licensing and regulation.
According to the International Commission on Radiological Protection, the Reference Man is a Caucasian male between the ages of 20 and 30, Weighs 154 pounds, stands 5 feet 6 inches tall, and lives in Western Europe or North America. This one-size-fits-all strategy only adequately captures a limited portion of society.
In her research, Olson contrasted the effects of radiation on various demographic groups with those of the Reference Man. Who was exposed to the same dose of radiation?
“To me, it seems natural to take those who were most impacted in that dataset and then compare it to where the regulatory agencies center their regulations,” she said. The most severely impacted group in the dataset were young girls age 0 to five at the time of exposure. “And what was the difference?” she said. “A factor of ten.”
Young guys in that same age bracket were the second most affected group. However, compared to their male counterparts, young girls were twice as likely to get cancer over the research period. Women were more likely than males to develop cancer from radiation across all age categories. While the gender gap lessened with age.
Young people are particularly susceptible to radiation because their bodies are constantly developing. Which causes their cells to divide more rapidly. Their DNA is therefore more susceptible to damage that might cause tumors.
The consistency and significance of the correlation imply that there is something else at work. It is possible that the young females in the research simply received more radiation than their male counterparts.
Olson thinks that this divergence might cause by physiological variations between the male and female bodies. But more research is require. She claimed that male and female bodies differ in the proportionate concentration of stem cells. These stem cells are far more susceptible to its damage.
This hypothesis, while still only a theory, would account for the pattern in Olson’s data: “The differential in stem cell concentration changes with puberty,” Olson stated. As we age, the concentration of stem cells in our bodies decreases. This decline matches the near convergence of its risk for men and women in older age groups. “The advent of menstruation results in a genuine tapering off of stem cells in the female body compared to the males.”
A one-size-fits-all approach to radiation risk assessment is likely to expose young women to dangerously high levels of radiation exposure, including from normal radiation exposures like CT scans, air travel, and medical x-rays as well as radiation from nuclear weapons. The risk and damage that ionizing radiation poses to society is therefore probably underestimate.
Radiation Exposure and the Risk of Cancer
Low-level radiation exposure has no immediate negative impact on health. But it can slightly raise your lifelong risk of developing cancer. Studies that monitor groups of radiation-exposed individuals, such as atomic bomb survivors and personnel in the radiation industry, are available. These studies demonstrate that exposure to radiation increases the risk of developing cancer and that this risk rises with radiation dose. On the other hand, when the radiation dose decreases, the risk of developing cancer also decreases.
In international units called millisieverts or rem, radiation doses are often express (U.S units). One radiation exposure or a series of exposures over time can use to calculate a dose. A single 100 millisievert (10 rem) or lower uniform whole-body exposure would not cause cancer in about 99% of people. When considering that approximately 40% of men and women in the United States. They will diagnose with cancer at some point in their lifetime. It would be incredibly challenging to detect an excess of malignancies brought on by radiation at this dose.
Even low individual risks may eventually cause an unacceptable number of extra cancer cases in a big population. For instance, in a population of one million people, an average 1% increase in a person’s lifetime chance of developing cancer could lead to 10,000 more cancer cases. To safeguard the American population, including vulnerable populations like children. From elevated cancer risks brought on by cumulative radiation exposure over a lifetime. The EPA establishes regulatory limits and suggests emergency response standards well below 100 millisieverts (10 rem).
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