The public fear of radiation is in part driven by the Linear No Threshold Hypothesis (LNTH), or the concept that each and every ionization increases the risk for cancer. Even if this were true, it is important to recognize that the increased risk is very small at low doses and cannot be detected. This paper demonstrates the large number of assumptions and extrapolations needed when using the LNTH to estimate low-dose cancer risk. The manuscript provides information at every level of biological organization suggesting that many of these linear assumptions do not hold. While the initial damage may be produced linearly with dose, the processing of that damage is very non-linear. Finally, the paper provides the unique prospective on radiation-induced cancer, demonstrating that it takes large amounts (total energy) of radiation delivered to large populations to detect an increase in cancer frequency. These observations are supported by both theoretical calculations and examples based on past human radiation exposure.
Brooks, Antone L; Hui, Edmond; and Couch, Lezlie A
"VERY LARGE AMOUNTS OF RADIATION ARE REQUIRED TO PRODUCE CANCER,"
Dose-Response: An International Journal:
4, Article 4.
Available at: http://scholarworks.umass.edu/dose_response/vol5/iss4/4