If you've been living on planet Earth anytime during the past fifty years, you are well aware of the dangers of radiation. We have learned that whenever we are exposed to X-rays, for example, there are certain precautions that must be taken. For dental X-rays, we'll need to have that lead-lined apron over us to make sure our reproductive organs are shielded from ionizing radiation. And, of course, the hygienist or technician must duck behind a lead partition because of the cumulative effect of any radiation that might bounce around the room. Not abiding by these rules will cause our cancer risk to increase substantially and may cause mutations in any children born after exposure of parental glands. All radiation is dangerous, and its danger is cumulative.
The thesis of this book contradicts such "common knowledge." While it is unquestionable that very high levels of radiation can cause death, illness and the increased risk of cancer, there is unimpeachable evidence that low levels of radiation are not harmful to human life at all. In fact, we require additional exposure to ionizing radiation in order to achieve our optimal health and vitality.
It is my purpose in this book to convince you that:
- Low levels of ionizing radiation (that which we call "nuclear" or "atomic" radiation) are not harmful to human beings - or any other living creatures for that matter;
- With rare exceptions, we live in an environment where most of us could achieve improved health and vitality by increasing our exposure to radiation;
- While cancer is one of the three hazards of radiation (the other two being radiation sickness and death from huge doses), exposure to low levels of radiation would actually reduce occurrences of cancer; and
- Society is being denied a virtually unlimited source of clean energy with unimaginable benefits because of this irrational fear of radiation.
Certainly these statements may sound like the ravings of a mad man. I fully understand that and realize that it is up to me to provide adequate evidence to support my claims - which is mostly what this book is about. But first I'd like to lay a little groundwork, starting with a question that must be bothering you. "If low levels of radiation are not harmful and appear to be beneficial, why aren't scientists publishing papers about this and attempting to correct the public's misconceptions about radiation effects?"
That's an easy one. They are. And they too are amazed that what some see as "the story of the decade" is being totally ignored by the general media. Even those of us who diligently try to keep up with the news by reading a variety of news sources are unlikely to come across the subject (unless we are regular readers of Health Physics or The Journal of Radiation Research).
This book cites well over a hundred scientists - almost all with doctorates in their fields of specialty - that have published reams of data in more than fifty peer-reviewed scientific journals and scores of government documents. They are trying desperately to communicate their experimental results and the implications thereof to the public.
Many of them have not figured out that this is a Green Issue and that the reporters and editors are not about to go against their Green friends who reflexively demonize anything considered to be "pro-nuclear." But they're learning. If low levels of radiation are realized to be benign, then there goes the argument against nuclear power - and that may well tumble the house of cards that is the Green-Primitivists' argument against an industrialized society.
While there are, as mentioned, hundreds of scientists who are pushing for a truthful assessment of the effects of low levels of radiation, it was not always so. The one figure whose research in this area has been pivotal is Professor T.D. Luckey, now-retired chairman of the Biochemistry Department at the University of Missouri School of Medicine. His 1980 book Hormesis with Ionizing Radiation cited more than a thousand experiments indicating that small amounts of radiation promoted growth and prolonged life in non-mammalian subjects. I can recall hearing of the book in 1981 and expecting a firestorm of interest in the beneficial uses of radiation. Not a word.
Dr. Luckey's second book, Radiation Hormesis, is the seminal work on the subject of beneficial effects of radiation on humans and other mammals. By this time other researchers had concluded there was at least a threshold of radiation exposure below which there were no adverse effects. But Luckey would not back down from his hypothesis: that most of us require additional ionizing radiation for optimal health and well being. The evidence, as you will see, makes a compelling argument. But still not a word in the general media. It is from Luckey's second book that much of the material herein has been "harvested."
[Hormesis with Ionizing Radiation, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, 1980 (out of print); Radiation Hormesis, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, 1991. Available from CRC Press, 2000 NW Corporate Blvd., Boca Raton, FL 33431, for $195 plus shipping.]
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This book is about radiation hormesis - a phenomenon virtually unknown outside of certain scientific circles, but the understanding of which offers the potential for significant health benefits and a pathway to rational treatment of radiation dangers. By reopening access to the wonders of nuclear technology, it promotes a more abundant life for mankind. Since the radiation hormesis hypothesis was put forth, it has caused a major upheaval in the scientific community about the effects of low-level radiation. At the same time, there has been an almost complete news blackout for the rest of us. I hope this book will help lift that veil.
The plan here is to provide you with information that helps cut through the confusing units of radiation intensity, its doses, the types of radiation, and other information that should allow you to make sense of the evidence. Then most of the book is in the form of evidence from experiments that were intended as studies of high-level effects, but in which the low-level data were also recorded. There are also several important investigations (with huge numbers of participants) where it was anticipated that the subjects would experience more cancer with an increase in radiation exposure, only to find that the exact opposite occurred.
At the outset you should know that there is nothing I can claim as original in the following pages. I am but an engineer reporting the results of scientists who have done the experiments or epidemiologists who have complied and analyzed data related to the effects of low levels of exposure. Being free to "pick and choose," I've selected the studies I thought were most interesting and indicative of hormesis. However, I did not exclude any because they showed opposite results. While I am certainly aware that there are many with opinions to the contrary, those who opine that low-level radiation is a danger have no data and must rely on extrapolations - and indeed, it is these very extrapolations that are the problem.
To Work, Dear Reader
You also have a job: It is to be totally skeptical of everything you read here. Doubt every sentence until I have presented sufficient evidence to back it up. There is an unbelievably large body of evidence about the effects of low doses of radiation on health, and some ninety-eight percent of it supports the hormesis model. I consider it quite an adventure to expose you to just a fraction of it.
Carefully and critically examine the evidence that is put forth here, and when you do, I believe that you will agree that the case I am making is indeed supported by the facts. And no longer will you allow the wool to be pulled over your eyes or those of your family, friends, and associates.
Let's begin by looking at how our attitudes toward radiation have changed during the past few decades.