05/30/2013 - 16:17

The low-dose phenomenon: How bystander effects, genomic instability, and adaptive responses could transform cancer-risk models

Colin K. Hill

Colin K. Hill is associate professor of radiation oncology at the Keck School of Medicine in the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center of the University of Southern California. He is the...

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From the atomic bomb dropped over Japan to nuclear accidents at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, there is strong public demand for information on the cancer risks from radiation exposure. In this article, the author explores some of the biological phenomenon that could alter or confirm current concepts of low-dose effects. Reviewing bystander effects, adaptive responses, and genomic instability, the author writes that these phenomena could revolutionize conventional understanding of how to approach cancer risk assessments in low-dose, possibly protracted, environments. Though current consensus supports a linear no-threshold model, evidence suggests that these biological responses just may overturn that thinking.