Radiation hormesis--a remedy for fear

Hum Exp Toxicol. 2010 Apr;29(4):263-70. doi: 10.1177/0960327110363974.


Personal reflections on radiation hormesis for the past 50 years are presented. The causes of ignoring and rejections of this phenomenon by international and national bodies and by radiation protection establishment are analyzed. The opposition against nuclear weapons and preparations for nuclear war was probably the main factor in inducing the concern for adverse effects of low doses of ionizing radiation, a byproduct of activism against the nuclear weapon tests. UNSCEAR was deeply involved in preparation of the scientific basis for cessation of nuclear test, and contributed to elaboration of the LNT assumption, which is in contradiction with the hormetic phenomenon. However, this authoritative body recognized also the existence of radiation hormesis, termed as 'adaptive response.' The political and vested interests behind exclusion of hormesis from the current risk assessment methodology are discussed.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / radiation effects
  • Animals
  • Chernobyl Nuclear Accident
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation*
  • Fear*
  • Health Policy
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Nuclear Weapons
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Public Health* / history
  • Public Opinion*
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Radiation Injuries / etiology
  • Radiation Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Radiation Protection
  • Radiation, Ionizing*
  • Radioactive Pollutants / adverse effects
  • Risk Assessment


  • Radioactive Pollutants