Contrary to popular belief and long-standing public policy, new research claims that exposure to high background radiation may, in fact, provide beneficial health effects to humans.
The somewhat shocking conclusion follows research by scientists at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and Nuclear Research Center Negev, who looked at the data on background radiation from all 3,129 US counties, taken from the Environmental Protection Agency’s radiation dose calculator.
They then examined the data relative to US cancer rates and life expectancy statistics from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington Medical Center.
They found that life expectancy is roughly two and a half years longer in areas with high background radiation compared with low background radiation.
Even more shockingly, they discovered that instances of certain kinds of cancer, including lung, pancreatic, colon, and rectal, were actually found to be lower when radiation levels were at the higher end of the spectrum. There were also reduced levels of brain and bladder cancers among men, though they found no decrease in cervix, breast, or prostate cancers, or leukemia.
The findings fly in the face of public policy, which, since the 1960s, has maintained that any radiation exposure carries some risk, spurring multiple initiatives to reduce radiation exposure among the general population.
“Decades of scientific theory are potentially being disproven by the remarkable researchers at BGU,” said Doug Seserman, chief executive officer, American Associates at the university.
“These findings might even provide a sense of relief for those who reside in areas in the US with higher-than-average background radiation,” he added.
The researchers caution, however, that a radiation threshold likely does exist – and it might just be far higher than previously believed.
“These findings provide clear indications for reconsidering the linear no-threshold paradigm, at least within the natural range of low-dose radiation,” the researchers concluded.
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