My research mission is to disclose political and environmental dangers to our well-being as a species. I study the politics of our vitality as a species and I've become increasingly interested in ionizing radiation's biological effects because they directly threaten species survival, a fact that has been known since the 1940s but has been deliberately denied for reasons of political power.
Below find some data I've assembled about the reproductive and childhood effects of ionizing radiation. The data were assembled in response to a media inquiry about thyroid nodules & cancer among Fukushima children. Much information still needs inclusion but here is my first draft
(Sorry for the lousy formatting. I don't have time to fix today)
IONIZING RADIATION, CHILDREN AND REPRODUCTIVE EFFECTS
Assembled by Majia H. Nadesan
1. OVERALL RISKS FOR CHILDREN UNDER-REPRESENTED: The greatest risks are for the youngest whose cells are dividing rapidly and for future generations who acquire germ line cell damage, particularly micro deletions. However, most models of dose-effects are based on a male reference man:
a. The 2006 U.S. National Academies’ panel on the risks of low-level radiation, the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR) VII report, found that overall fatal cancer risk for females was 37.5 percent greater than for males exposed to the same radiation dose, and children are even more vulnerable.[i] Despite these findings, the reference man continues to inform many international and national regulatory guidelines, including the ICRP.[ii]
2 2. ATMOPSHERIC EXPOSURE VERSUS BIO-ACCUMULATION AND BIO-MAGNIFICATION: Radiation exposure levels measured by the ‘badges’ worn by Fukushima children under-predict effects because they don’t address internal exposure
a. In 1962, Harold Knapp described how radioiodine from a single deposition in pasture-land bioaccumulates and biomagnifies, producing substantial and injurious radiation doses for children consuming milk.[iii]
b. Strontium is bio-accumulated in bone as an analog of calcium. Both strontium and cesium (an analog of potassium) can pass the blood-brain barrier by entering the brain’s calcium channels (e.g., see Xu-Friedman & Regehr, 1999).[iv]
c. Uranium is particularly chemically toxic. See ‘Once Upon a Mine: The Legacy of Uranium on the Navajo Nation’[v]
3. FETUSES/EMBROYS VULNERABILITIES: Ian Fairlie observes that hematopoietic tissues [containing stem cells] appear to be considerably more radiosensitive in embryos/fetuses than in newborn babies.’[vi]
4 4. CHILDHOOD LEUKEMA & GAMMA RADIATION:
a. A study by the Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale (French Institute of Health and Medical Research, or INSERM) documented a leukemia rate twice as high among children under the age of 15, living within a five kilometer radius of France's 19 nuclear power plants, when compared to those living 20 kilometers or more away from a plant.[vii] The French study reinforced previous findings on excess risk for leukemia in young children living in close proximity to German nuclear power plants.[viii]
b. Studies on medical imaging show children are very vulnerable to the radiation used in the imaging. A study published in The Lancet in 2012 found that CT scans cause a small but significant increased risk for leukemia and brain cancer in children.[ix] Two to three scans of the head for children under three tripled the risk for brain cancer as compared to the general population while five to ten scans tripled the risk for leukemia.
c. One study found a 12 percent increase in childhood leukemia for every millisievert of natural gamma-radiation dose to bone marrow.[x]
d. Nowakowski and Hayes (2008) describe effects of radiation on early brain development (i.e., neurogenesis), which include double-strand breaks of DNA impacting cell proliferation and migration during critical periods of early brain development. They conclude that early fetal development is particularly susceptible to effects of relatively low levels of exposure to radioisotopes.[xi]
5. . Thyroid nodules are not ‘typical’ but they are rising in frequency. They are an ‘environmental disease’ that has clearly been linked to radio-iodine;
a. Mark E Gerber, Arlen D Meyers. Pediatric Thyroid Cancer. Medscape, “The incidence of , including those of the thyroid, has increased 25% during the past 30 years. Based on retrospective series, the prevalence of thyroid nodules in children ranges from 0.2-5%, compared with approximately 30% in adults. However, pediatric thyroid nodules carry a far greater risk of harboring malignancy compared with adults, at approximately 26.4%. Some authors have reported an incidence of as high as 36%. Because pediatric thyroid nodules carry this increased risk of malignancy, physicians should perform an expeditious workup….”
6. IONIZING RADIATION AND HEART DEFECTS
a. Yuri Bandazhevsky found that children contaminated with Cesium-137 producing 50 disintegrations per second (becquerels) per kilogram of body weight suffered irreversible heart damage.[xii]
b. De-novo micro deletions linked to congenital heart disease: Lifton, Seidman, et al, 2013). Children born with serious heart defects, at least ten percent of them had increased de novo mutations, not inherited from parents, suggesting environmental causation.[xiii]
7. MITOCHONDRIAL MUTATIONS AND RADIATION: Radiation exposure, even ‘natural background radiation’ increases frequency of mitochondrial DNA mutations, which are transmitted across generations (via mother). Mitochondrial defects have been linked to autism and other psychiatric disorders.
a. A study examining the mitochondrial DNA of people who live in an area of Iran with high background radiation found that higher rates of mitochondrial DNA mutations correlated with higher background exposure and that mutations were transmitted across generations: “The observation that radiation accelerates point mutations at all is unexpected, at first glance, because radiation was, until recently, thought to generate primarily DNA lesions. A potential explanation is provided by our additional observation that these radiation-associated point mutations are also evolutionary hot spots, indicating that the radiation indirectly increases the cell's normal (evolutionary) mutation mechanism.[xiv]
8. RADIATION, DE NOVO MUTATIONS, GENOMIC INSTABILITIES
a. UNSCEAR: Transgenerational Effects in Humans Lead to Multi-System Developmental Anomalies. Most radiation-induced mutations are DNA deletions, often encompassing multiple genes, but only a small proportion of the induced deletions is compatible with offspring viability; “The viability-compatible deletions induced in germ cells are more likely to manifest themselves as multi-system developmental anomalies rather than as single gene disorders.” (Sankaranarayanan et al 2005)
· Men bequeath more germ line cell damage to their children as they age so our typical background exposures increase frequency of micro DNA mutations in sperm.[xv]
· Anna Aghajanyan and Igor Suskov found that male Chernobyl liquidators and their children had increased aberrant genome frequencies, suggesting transgenerational genomic instability as a consequence of radiation exposure.[xvi] A 2008 review of findings on genomic damage in children published in Mutation Research concluded that Chernobyl-radiation exposed children suffered consistently increased chromosome aberration and micronuclei frequency.[xvii]
I suspect link between ionizing radiation (and other genotoxins) and autism because of the increased rate of microdeletions found in children with autism and the association of autism with older fathers Sebat, J. et al. 2007. Strong association of de novo copy number mutations with autism. Science 316: 445–449 and Kong, A., Frigge, M., Masson, G., & Besenbacher, S. (2012) Rate of de novo mutations and the importance of father’s age to disease risk, Nature 488, 471–475
SUMMARY OF DNA DISRUPTIONS
Ionizing radiation is radiotoxic because it breaks chemical bonds, knocking electrons out of orbit, thereby destroying the ‘atomic building blocks’ of the molecular elements of life (i.e., DNA). These disruptions adversely affect cellular reproduction, resulting in chromosomal rearrangement, cellular transformation, and carcinogenesis, among other effects.[xviii] Researchers today recognize that these effects can be delayed, affecting the progeny of surviving, radiated cells. Therefore, radiation exposure can negatively alter cellular reproduction by killing and damaging cells directly and by creating long-term ‘genomic instability’ (delayed effect) in surviving cells.
Furthermore, recent research on the bystander effect reveals and that the effects of radiation extend beyond the nucleus of directly targeted cells as nearby cells’ replication processes can also be altered, although the precise signaling events between cells that initiate and perpetuate alterations remain undisclosed.[xix] Findings suggest that bystander effects can occur at low levels of exposure to radiation: ‘At lower levels, some or all of the effects are likely to have been initiated not by direct radiation effects on the cell, but by the bystander effect, in which radiation damage to one cell can lead to biological changes in surrounding cells.… ’[xx] Bystander effects and genomic instability are together referred to as ‘non-targeted’ effects.[xxi]
All forms of radiation exposure can damage DNA and alter epigenetic signaling. However, ingested alpha particles are particularly effective in producing point mutations in cells neighboring (bystanders of) those transversed.[xxii] Indeed, the 2006 BEIR report notes that internal alpha particles are more effective than low LET radiation (e.g., gamma rays) in producing genomic instability.[xxiii]
[i] National Research Council Health Risks.
[ii] The Nuclear Energy Agency Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development 2011 report, Evolution of ICRP Recommendations 1977, 1990, and 2007 explains that the ICRP publication distinguished between non-stochastic (deterministic) and stochastic (probabilistic) effects in 1977, but didn’t provide quantitative estimates of the stochastic risk for fatal cancer across the lifespan and severe hereditary effects from radiation until 1990 (pp. 15-16). The 2007 ICRP publication incorporates ‘detriment,’ which attempts to quantify all deleterious effects of exposure by including cancer incidences, not simply fatal cases (p. 16). The models still relies on a homogenized reference man (Available, http://www.oecd-nea.org/rp/reports/2011/nea6920-ICRP-recommendations.pdf, date accessed 22 May 2013).
[iii] S. Kirsch (2004) ‘Harold Knapp and the Geography of Normal Controversy: Radioiodine in the Historical Environment’, Osiris, 19, 167-181.
[iv] Xu-Friedman, M. A., & Regehr, W G. (1999, April). Presynaptic strontium dynamics and synaptic transmission. Biophys J., 76(4), 2029–2042.
[v] Carrie Arnold (2014, February). Once upon a mine: The legacy of uranium on the Navajo Nation’ Environmental Health Perspectives, 122(2), A44-A49, http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/122-a44/
[vi] I. Fairlie (2009) ‘Commentary: Childhood Cancer near Nuclear Power Stations’, Environmental Health Perspectives, 8.43, http://www.ehjournal.net/content/8/1/43, date accessed 24 August 2012.
[vii] C. Sermage-Faure, D. Laurier, S. Goujon-Bellec, M. Chartier, A. Guyot-Goubin, J. Rudant, D. Hemon and J. Clavel (2012) ‘Childhood Leukemia around French Nuclear Power Plants-The Geocap Study, 2002-2007’, International Journal of Cancer, 131, 5, p. 769-780, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ijc.27425/pdf, date accessed 7 September 2012.
[viii] M. Blettner, P. Kaatsch, S, Schmiedel, R. Schulze-Rath, and C. Spix (2008) ‘Leukaemia in Young Children Living in the Vicinity of German Nuclear Power Plant’, International Journal of Cancer, 122, 721–726.
M. Blettner, P. Kaatsch, S, Schmiedel, R. Schulze-Rath, and C. Spix (2008) ‘Case-Control Study on Childhood Cancer in the Vicinity of Nuclear Power Plants in Germany 1980–2003’, European Journal of Cancer, 44, 275–284.
[ix] Mark S Pearce, Jane A Salotti, Mark P Little, Kieran McHugh, Choonsik Lee, Kwang Pyo Kim, Nicola L Howe, Cecile M Ronckers, Preetha Rajaraman,
Sir Alan W Craft, Louise Parker, Amy Berrington de González. Radiation exposure from CT scans in childhood and subsequent risk of eukaemia and brain tumours: a retrospective cohort study. The Lancet. June 7, 2012DOI:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60815-0, http://press.thelancet.com/ctscanrad.pdf/.
[x] University of Oxford (2012) ‘Natural Gamma Rays Linked to Childhood Leukemia,’ http://www.ox.ac.uk/media/news_stories/2012/120612.html, date accessed 22 November 2012.
[xi] Nowakowski, R. S. & Hayes, N. L. (2008). Radiation, retardation and the developing brain: Time is the crucial variable. Acta Pediatrica, 97, 527-531.
[xii] S. Starr. (2012) ‘Health Threat from Cesium 1-137’, Japan Times, http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/rc20120216a1.html, date accessed 12 July 2012.
[xiii] Richard Lifton, Christine Seidman et al (2013, May)"De novo mutations in histone-modifying genes in congenital heart disease" Nature, http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature12141.html
[xiv] S. Lutz-Bonengel, B. Brinkmann, L. Forster, P. Forster and H. Willkomm (2002) ‘Natural Radioactivity and Human Mitochondrial DNA Mutations’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 99.21, http://www.pnas.
org/content/99/21/13950.long, date accessed 22 October 2012.
[xv] Callaway, E. (2023, Aug ) Fathers bequeath more mutations as they age. Nature, http://www.nature.com/news/fathers-bequeath-more-mutations-as-they-age-1.11247
[xvi] A. Aghajanyan and I. Suskov (2009) ‘Transgenerational Genomic Instability in Children of Irradiated Parents as a Result of the Chernobyl Nuclear Accident’, Mutation Research, 671, 52-57.
[xvii] A. Fucic, G. Brunbog, R. Lasan, D. Jezek, L. E. Knudsen, D. F. Merlo (2008) ‘Genomic Damage in Children Accidentally Exposed to Ionizing Radiation: A Review of the Literature’, Mutation Research, 658, 111-123.
[xviii] L. Huang, W. F. Morgan, and A. R. Snyder (2003) ‘Radiation-Induced Genomic Instability and its Implications for Radiation Carcinogenesis’, Oncogene, 22, 5848–5854,
[xix] Morgan ‘Non-targeted and Delayed Effects’.
[xx] A. Hooker, M. Bhat, T. Day, J. Lane, S. Swinburne, A. Morley and P. Sykes (2004) ‘The Linear No-Threshold Model Does Not Hold for Low-Dose Ionizing Radiation’, Radiation Research, 162.4, 447-452.
[xxi] P. Dorfman, A. Fucic, S. Thomas (7 February 2013) ‘Late Lessons from Chernobyl, Early Warnings from Fukushma’ Monitor, 756, 1-19, http://www.nuclearconsult.com/docs/NM_756.pdf.
[xxii] D. Averbeck (2010) ‘Towards a New Paradigm for Evaluating the Effects of Exposure to Ionizing Radiation Mutation Research’, Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis, 687, 7-12.
[xxiii] National Research Council BEIR VII Phase 2, p. 70.