Eric Roston. Radiation Can Kill, but Not as Easily You Think: Studying survivors of America’s atomic attacks on Japan have helped scientists better understand radiation—and how we fear it. Bloomberg, August 11, 2016, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-08-11/radiation-can-kill-but-not-as-easily-you-thinkThese articles essentially trivialize risks from exposure to excess ionizing radiation.
One thing that strikes me as significant about the research produced in the 1940s and 1950s by the ABCC is the willingness to acknowledge the significant limitations that constrain generalization of findings beyond the sample population.
For example, the researchers did not have information about exposure DOSES. Dose information had to be reconstructed without firm knowledge of the source terms. That means that dose-effects are fundamentally UNCERTAIN.
Here are a list of some of the ABCC's significant limitations:
1. The research was limited from the beginning because the sample was not "representative" despite its large size because it was composed of SURVIVORS. Survivors may enjoy greater biological resilience to ionizing radiation than the population in general.
2. The research was limited because there were significant cultural incentives for survivors to minimize their symptoms to escape the designation of cultural/biological stigma. Stigmatized survivors had trouble getting jobs and spouses. Hence, there were strong cultural incentives for not reporting full symptoms.
3. The research on reproductive effects was limited by widespread practices of infanticide of imperfect infants and because Japanese women may have resisted their American conquerors' intrusive surveillance of their reproductive cycles (and I mean totally intrusive and potentially humiliating). I sure wouldn't be sharing details of my menstrual cycle or the sadness of a stillborn or severely malformed infant delivered illegally by midwife to any conquering army.
4. The research focused disproportionately on cancer until the 1970s and therefore may have attributed radiation-caused deaths to other causes.
5. The research lacked an appropriate control population for evaluating excess risks.
6. The research was shaped by American interests because it was controlled by Americans pretty much entirely until 1975 when the ABCC was dissolved and the Radiation Research Effects institute was established and even this latter institution relies on funding from the US Department of Energy:
The RERF is a nonprofit Japanese foundation binationally managed and supported with equal funding by the governments of Japan, through the MHW, and the United States, through the NAS under contract with the Department of Energy (DOE) (and its predecessors). SOURCE: Itsuzo Shigematsu Greetings: 50 years of Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission–Radiation Effects Research Foundation studies Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998 May 12; 95(10): 5424–5425. PMCID: PMC33856 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC33856/7. The research on genetic effects was limited by the available technologies. Gross mutations could be identified but genome sequencing was impossible. Today, new sequencing research reveals that disorders such as autism are correlated with increased rates of de novo micro deletions and repeat sequences (as well as epigenetic effects) in key chromosomes, including 16. These new findings were made possible by more sophisticated research technology that can quickly map and compare entire genomes.
A. Please see my article on chromosome 16 for a discussion of genomic radiosensitivty here: http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2016/08/chromosome-16-linked-to-human-evolution.htmlDespite these and other limitations the ABCC research is represented as the GOLD STANDARD and is now being used in a concerted propaganda campaign to deny significant effects from "low dose" radiation exposure.
There was an article in today's Wall Street Journal that basically repeated the same narrative of "few" effects and little excess risk that is circulating across the media.
Here is a study that is being used as a source for allegations that there are few low dose effects:
Bertrand R. Jordan. 2016. The Hiroshima/Nagasaki Survivor Studies: Discrepancies Between Results and General Perception. Genetics August 1, 2016 vol. 203 no. 4 1505-1512; DOI: 10.1http://www.genetics.org/content/203/4/1505
Since the bombings, which occurred 71 years ago this week, many survivors and their children participated in studies that helped scientists understand the long-term effects of radiation exposure. About 120,000 survivors of the 1945 attacks, and 77,000 of their children, have taken part in the ongoing work since the 1940s. The research was conducted by the U.S. from 1947 to 1975, when Japan set up the Radiation Effects Research Foundation, in partnership with the U.S. This work helped inform the empirical basis for modern radiation exposure standardsBertrand acknowledges the significant limitations of genetic findings, particularly in relation to trans-generational effects, yet is quite content to move from that uncertainty to the statement that society over-emphasizes risks of radiation.
I believe that research findings generated by Tim Mousseau and Anders Moller (with other colleagues) point to the most insidious and risky effects of protracted exposure to ionizing radiation: reduced head size and increased infertility.
Here is a video presentation by Dr. Mousseau you may find interesting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKqsbbVBit4
Dr. Mousseau and colleagues do not identify all the mechanisms implicated in observed findings, but do point specifically to the role of enhanced antioxidant production in mitigating against phenotypic effects.
Two problems with the existing radiation dose-effects paradigms (there are other problems but I'm focusing now on these two):
1. Presumes that the biological impacts of all radionuclides are equal, which disregards divergent impacts from biological uptake and chemical toxicity. Thank you CodeShutdown for your very detailed explication of this observation.
2. Presumes that human genome is homogeneous in terms of susceptibility to ionizing radiation. However, that is a false assumption as recent research reveals that chromosome 16 is radio-sensitive and susceptible to re-organization.
Chromosome 16 has been linked to differentiation of human evolution and head size:
Virginia Hughes. May 17, 2012. Fish study links chromosome 16 genes to head size. Spectrum News, https://spectrumnews.org/news/fish-study-links-chromosome-16-genes-to-head-size/
Chromosome 16 has been linked to autism, particularly through role of de novo micro-deletions and sequencing errors (see my post here)
Chromosome 16 is radio sensitive (see my post here)
Is the pattern clear. Chromosome 16 is radiosensitive, prone to re-organization, which can be adaptive by somehow impacting head size, perhaps allowing for greater neural growth.
Or re-organization can be maladaptive. Too much disorganization produces neurological problems.
Implication: Steadily increasing exposure to ionizing radiation could increase very subtle errors at a rate that is maladaptive, leading to significant transgenerational effects that would be evident in increased neurological problems in the population.
The ABCC researchers understood already that reproductive effects were the most significant risk overall for the health of the population (we are talking about the period of population eugenics here).
As noted above, there were all kinds of incentives for the sample population and for the researchers to minimize effects and the existing research tools were crude by today's standards.
The genetic models were mechanistic, rather than systemic. Life is a dance at every level of analysis and our efforts at coding order are always precarious and can easily be disrupted with potentially catastrophic effects across generations.
In my opinion, contemporary efforts to minimize the long-term effects of ionizing radiation, particularly transgenerational effects, are potentially genocidal, whether intended to be so or not.