MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jeffry A. Siegel, PhD
President & CEO, Nuclear Physics Enterprises, Marlton, NJ
Charles W. Pennington, MS, MBA
NAC International, Norcross, GA, Retired; Executive Nuclear Energy Consultant
Bill Sacks, PhD, MD
Emeritus Medical Officer, FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health
Silver Spring, MD
James S. Welsh, MS, MD, FACRO
Department of Radiation Oncology
Stritch School of Medicine Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL
Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: The background is the falsity of the widespread claim that all ionizing (high energy) radiation is harmful regardless of how low the dose. This claim is expressed in the official policies of almost all radiation regulatory agencies around the world, as well as in many scientific journal papers. It has been responsible for a common fear of radiation (radiophobia) among the public and members of the medical profession, including even most radiologists and nuclear medicine physicians.
The radiophobia resulting from this false allegation has been instrumental in the forced evacuations of hundreds of thousands of people near nuclear energy plants at Chernobyl and Fukushima that have produced thousands of deaths from the evacuations themselves of sick and/or elderly people, from consequent suicides, alcoholism, heart attacks, and strokes, as well as other health destroying reactions to the loss of homes, possessions, jobs, and communities.
This erroneous belief has acted to prevent many people from getting needed CT scans and x-ray studies, and to prevent many parents from permitting their children to get such imaging studies, with consequences such as surgical explorations that might have been otherwise unnecessary and carry risks of injury and mortality, or such as the foregoing of treatment that would otherwise be health restoring.
This unfounded proclamation and its resultant radiophobia have acted as obstacles to the development of clean and sustainable nuclear energy, and have underlain widespread irresponsible propaganda by all sorts of would-be anti-nuclear gurus. There are other harmful effects of this unwarranted contention, including severe limitations on funding for further research into the beneficial effects of low-dose radiation.
The main findings in this article are that the very scientists whose experimental work gave rise to this false claim in the 1940s – Hermann Muller and Curt Stern and their colleagues – in fact demonstrated the exact opposite, namely that below certain threshold radiation doses there were no harmful effects at all and possible beneficial effects. Even more importantly, there were no scientists at the time who realized that Muller and Stern’s conclusions flew in the face of their actual experimental results. Or at least there were none who were inclined to point out the falsity of Muller and Stern’s unwarranted conclusions, perhaps intimidated by Muller’s status as a Nobel Prize winner (1946, for his earlier work on radiation-caused mutations in fruit flies).