[ RadSafe ] Is this the beginning of the end of the debate on low-dose radiation health effects?

Brennan, Mike (DOH) Mike.Brennan at DOH.WA.GOV
Thu Jun 26 11:44:16 CDT 2014

I think a fair portion of the comes down competing models, in particular "physics" vs "biology" and "deconstructionist" vs "holistic".

The physics of how ionizing radiation can damage genetic material is pretty clear, with the chances of that damage leading to cancer somewhat less clear, but still fairly easy to quantify (especially if you look for "cancer precursors" and stop your experiment early enough).  With radiation damage to cells, biology happens after the physics.  Biology is harder than physics, because a lot of things happen, often very fast, and often for not completely obvious reasons (As the Harvard Law states, "Under carefully controlled conditions of temperature, pressure, and humidity, the experimental subject will behave as it damn well pleases.")  It is traditional in Science that when part of the process is hard and part is easy, more attention is paid to the easy part.

This leads to the "deconstructionist" vs "holistic" axis.  When you break something down to simpler parts it is easier to understand them in detail, and write papers on the details.  Fitting the pieces back together can be challenging, however.  On the other hand, when you focus on the whole system without explaining each piece you are likely to wind up like that New Yorker cartoon, with a blackboard full of equation with "then a miracle occurs" in the middle.  

I, personally, think that there is only so much to be learned by arguing over old data, especially data that was collected for other reasons.  I'd like to see a couple of dedicated LNT people and a couple of hormesis people (maybe with a threshold guy as referee) sit down and construct an experiment that all agree would definitively answer at least part of the question, then run it.   

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu [mailto:radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu] On Behalf Of Doss, Mohan
Sent: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 7:48 PM
To: 'The International Radiation Protection (Health Physics) Mailing List'
Subject: [ RadSafe ] Is this the beginning of the end of the debate on low-dose radiation health effects?

Dear All,
    The most often-quoted evidence for the increased cancer risk from low-dose radiation (LDR) in publications is the atomic bomb survivor data, e.g. in BEIR VII report, publications by Brenner & Hall, etc.  In my opinion, the latest update to atomic bomb survivor data (Ozasa 2012) does not support the LNT model (and so LDR cancer risk), as I have described in a few publications.  Those who claim LDR cancer risk also apparently accept this interpretation, as they routinely refer to older atomic bomb survivor data to validate LDR cancer concerns and ignore the newer data, e.g. Brenner's recent review article in BJR.  When I challenged him in a Letter to the Editor http://goo.gl/JYPkcp for using the outdated data, he did not give any explanation why he ignored the newer data in his response.  Also, in the recently published debate in Medical Physics on the subject of LDR health effects http://goo.gl/vOlQNd , the side claiming LDR cancer risk did not even bring forth the evidenc  e of atomic bomb survivors in the opening statement, in comparison to previous debates, where it was the centerpiece of evidence.  These actions by supporters of the LDR cancer risk, of not using the latest data from atomic bomb survivors (claimed to be "single most important source" by BEIR VII report, and as "gold standard" by Hall & Brenner), may indicate the beginning of the end of the debate on the subject.
   With best regards,

Mohan Doss, Ph.D., MCCPM
Medical Physicist,
Associate Professor, Diagnostic Imaging, Fox Chase Cancer Center,
333 Cottman Avenue,
Philadelphia, PA 19111-2497.
Phone: 215 214-1707
Website: http://www.fccc.edu/research/pid/doss/
Blogs: http://mohan-doss-home-page.blogspot.com/

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