A recent Israeli study suggests that relatively high exposure to background radiation may reduce cancer risks. Researchers advise questioning the perception of radiation in general, and especially concerning their dangerousness.
In 2017, we mentioned research on the corals of Bikini Atoll (Marshall Islands). More than 70 years after the last US atomic tests, these corals with long-term radiation exposure could become a weapon of choice for the fight against cancer. What if radiation itself could reduce the risk of certain cancers? This is what a study conducted by Ben-Gurion University in the Negev (Israel), published in the journal Biogerontology January 22, 2021. According to the researchers, exposure to a high enough threshold to background radiation would not be not so bad for your health.
Remember that background radiation relates to the type of radiation that is part of our daily life. These come from both natural and man-made sources. However, among these radiations, we find those of naturally radioactive rocks (and other materials), nuclear tests and medical X-rays, not to mention cosmic radiation from space.
Better life expectancy
As part of their work, the scientists analyzed data from the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The latter had measured exposure to background radiation in no less than 3,129 counties nationwide during the 1960s. The researchers then crossed these data with estimates of life expectancy as well as statistics on cancer rates.
According to the results, citizens living in areas with higher radiation rates are less affected by certain cancers (lung, colon, rectum and pancreas). The study is formal: the life expectancy in these areas is about 2.5 years longer than the others. In addition, the results concern both women and men. However, lower rates of brain and bladder cancer have been observed in men.
An exposure threshold to review?
Israeli researchers have said they do not expect “background radiation cures” to be put in place. However, it could be review our perception of this radiation. Many countries – including the United States – are currently waging a battle to reduce radiation levels in their territory. However, the motivation for these costly actions lies in the postulate designating these same radiations as being inherently harmful.
Finally, the study leaders recalled that there was indeed a threshold limit for radiation exposure. On the other hand for them, the latter should perhaps not not be as low as it is now.