Evidence supporting radiation hormesis in atomic bomb survivor cancer mortality data

Dose Response. 2012 Dec;10(4):584-92. doi: 10.2203/dose-response.12-023.Doss. Epub 2012 Jul 13.


A recent update on the atomic bomb survivor cancer mortality data has concluded that excess relative risk (ERR) for solid cancers increases linearly with dose and that zero dose is the best estimate for the threshold, apparently validating the present use of the linear no threshold (LNT) model for estimating the cancer risk from low dose radiation. A major flaw in the standard ERR formalism for estimating cancer risk from radiation (and other carcinogens) is that it ignores the potential for a large systematic bias in the measured baseline cancer mortality rate, which can have a major effect on the ERR values. Cancer rates are highly variable from year to year and between adjacent regions and so the likelihood of such a bias is high. Calculations show that a correction for such a bias can lower the ERRs in the atomic bomb survivor data to negative values for intermediate doses. This is consistent with the phenomenon of radiation hormesis, providing a rational explanation for the decreased risk of cancer observed at intermediate doses for which there is no explanation based on the LNT model. The recent atomic bomb survivor data provides additional evidence for radiation hormesis in humans.

Keywords: Atomic Bomb Survivors; Cancer Mortality; LNT Model; Radiation Hormesis; Systematic bias.