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Charles L. Sanders’ latest book, Radiation Hormesis and the Linear-No-Threshold Assumption, is among the finest scientific research publications I have ever read. There are, believe it or not, 1,470 technical references within the text and bibliographies of its 15 chapters relating to Low Level Nuclear Radiation and each is referenced within the text — which means this author read every single one of them. A life’s work in itself
In spite of the vast amount of peer-reviewed literature on molecular, cellular, animal and epidemiological — indicating not harm, but benefit from low-dose ionizing radiation — outrageous, unsubstantiated statements continue to be made concerning its hazards, which we have all witnessed in recent months after the near-total distortion of potential harm to the Japanese population as a result of the nuclear power disruptions.
Such distortions are fueled by proponents of the linear no threshold (LNT) assumption, which says any dose of radiation — no matter how insignificant — results in increased mortality from cancer and other diseases. Virtually all predictions of harm, from Fukushima to Three Mile Island to Chernobyl, are estimates based on an incorrect assumption that has been proven wrong over and over again.
These fallacies are not insignificant, as they have prevented countless illnesses from being healed with low-level radiation — and have left much of the world shaking with fear over radiation phobia, which stalls the growth of the safest form of the world’s energy resources: nuclear. Outside of Chernobyl, where an explosion in an unprotected plant killed 50 people, there has not been a radiation related fatality in 444 operating nuclear power plants around the world or on 200 nuclear vessels launched in the past 50 years. In addition, Sanders describes countless billions having been spent to unnecessarily protect us from low level radiation.
In the narrative of the text, Sanders leaves no stone unturned in making the scientific case for the benefits of low-level radiation to human health. No doubt the impacts of Fukushima will be studied for decades to come with the very same result.
To best explain the fallacy of the Linear-No-Threshold (LNT) assumption, Sanders says that if one assumes that 100 percent of a population would die or get cancer from a certain dose of radiation, then one assumes that 50 percent of that population would die or get cancer from a 50 percent dose. The most serious part of the fallacy that says that 1 percent of the population would die or get cancer from a 1 percent dose of the radiation. This allows the doom-saying projection of mortality from what turns out to be inconsequential doses of radiation.
This LNT assumption Sanders explains, does not consider the role of biological defense mechanisms we know to exist in the human body: The biological model of a single ionization event causing chromosomal damage to DNA in a cell resulting in a single mutation that produces a linear increase in cancer is not supported by research data.
The concept, now completely proven and described by Sanders — substances that may be harmful in large quantities can be beneficial in small quantities — is called “hormesis,” from the Greek word hormaein, which means to excite. It appears that low-level stress stimulates a system of protective biological processes at the cellular, molecular, and organismic levels, decreasing cancer incidence and the incidences of other deleterious health effects. One has only to recognize the danger of overdoses of vitamins, which are so valuable in small quantities, or to alcohol, always known for its hazards and now known for its benefits.
On the other side of the coin, there is nearly countless evidence of the benefits of radiation to workers in nuclear facilities, A-bomb survivors, and many other groups exposed to low-level radiation. Sanders writes that Ed Calabreese, now recogized as the world’s leading authority on hormesis, has uncovered 3,000 examples of hormesis in the scientific literature. In short: Big doses of substances are hazardous, while low levels of those same substances are beneficial. Our government, Sanders writes, has continued to ignore this deluge of data that disproves their methodology.
Sanders explains that the age adjusted cancer mortality rate for the U.S. population decreases with increasing background radiation. A 20 percent lower cancer mortality rate was found in Idaho, Colorado and New Mexico than in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama — where background radiation levels are nearly five times smaller than for those living in the Mountain states.
At Chernobyl, where 65,000 people were involved in cleanup and emergency medical operations, researchers found they had lower-than-normal cancer rates later in life. In fact, the only increases in mortality surrounding the Chernobyl accident were suicides.
We now treat over one million patients with radiotherapy in industrialized countries, including 50 percent of cancer patients in the U.S. with obvious positive results. Literally hundreds of thousands of medical workers exposed to radiation have the same positive outcomes throughout the world. This has been established in detailed peer-reviewed studies, yet our health agencies ignore the benefits and continuing to predict fear-mongering statistics, Sanders writes.
While focusing on low-level radiation, Sanders describes its relationship to most major diseases — and in so doing brilliantly explains what variables are of importance in those diseases. They include liver and thyroid cancer, breast cancer, leukemia, birth defects and lung cancer, among others. A good example is the following discussion by Sanders of lung cancer:
“The risk of lung cancer is dependant on the number of cigarettes smoked per day, use of a filter, type of tobacco, extent of inhalation, number of puffs per cigarette, the length of time smoking, and time since quitting for ex-smokers.”
And related to that is the author’s finding that no single increase in lung cancers was found among those who worked to clean up the Chernobyl accident.
The advocates of the LNT model continue to change strategy as hormesis researchers continue to establish the facts about the benefits of low dose radiation. After promoting radiation-induced carcinogenic risks in hundreds of studies using the LNT assumption, they are now taking a different tack.
All their studies lack a statistical power to demonstrate harm at doses below 100 millisieverts. Rather than admit to the possibility of a threshold — or even benefit — at these low doses, they just say they lack statistical power. The fact is that these studies lack any evidence of harm, but abundant statistical significance of benefit at doses below 100 millisieverts.
No honest individual with an IQ above plant life could fail to see the terrible malfeasance of science regarding the LNT after reading this outstanding book.
by Charles L. Sanders
Published by Springer
Reviewed by Jay Lehr, Ph.D.