Rationale for using multiple antioxidants in protecting humans against low doses of ionizing radiation

Br J Radiol. 2005 Jun;78(930):485-92. doi: 10.1259/bjr/87552880.


Health risks of low doses of ionizing radiation (10 cGy or less) may not be accurately estimated in humans by epidemiological study or mathematical modelling because of several inherent confounding factors including environmental, dietary and biological variables that cannot be accounted for in any radio-epidemiological study. In addition, the expression of radiation-induced damage in humans not only depends upon total dose, dose rate, linear energy transfer (LET), and fractionation and protraction of total doses, but also on repair mechanisms, bystander effects, and exposure to chemical carcinogens, tumour promoters and other toxins. It also depends upon the levels of anti-carcinogenic and anti-tumour promoting agents. Low doses of ionizing radiation should not be considered insignificant with regard to increasing the incidence of somatic mutations (neoplastic and non-neoplastic diseases) and heritable mutations in humans owing to its interaction with other toxins that can enhance damage produced by irradiation. It is very prudent to continue to support the well-established radiobiological concept that no radiation dose can be considered completely safe, and that all efforts must be made to reduce both the radiation dose and biological damage, no matter how small that damage might be, without sacrificing the benefits of radiation. Based on the results of many scientific experiments, formulations containing multiple antioxidants for biological protection against radiation damage in humans can be developed, and this strategy together with the existing physical concept of radiation protection, should further reduce potential risks of low doses of ionizing radiation in humans.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Cocarcinogenesis
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / etiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • Radiation Injuries / etiology
  • Radiation Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Radiation Protection / methods
  • Radiation-Protective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Radiography / adverse effects*
  • Risk Assessment


  • Antioxidants
  • Radiation-Protective Agents