What is it about?

An independent review of data on cancer incidence among the survivors of the US nuclear attack on Japan in 1945 shows that both age and biological sex are factors in rate of cancer incidence after 60 years of tracking the population. Evidence shows a factor of ten difference from the most impacted (exposure to girls) to the least (elder males). Females were harmed more in every age group. Regulations in the USA are based solely on adult male data formulated as Reference Man. Use of male information only results in an under-estimation of the impact of radiation across the global population, and under-protection of females as a group.

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Why is it important?

While incremental risks from low-level exposure to radiation are small, multiple exposures and exposures to large numbers of people (medical, dental, aviation, environmental, occupational) result in levels of harm that are not trivial. Gendered information needs to be factored; the paper offers suggested future research questions.


I have long wondered why my male colleagues focus on economics as the primary factor in evaluation of nuclear technology, while my female colleagues, and in general, female members of the public are first concerned with questions about safety and the impacts of radiation. The finding that female bodies are more harmed by radiation exposure suggests that this difference may, in fact be innate.

Mary Olson

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Disproportionate impact of radiation and radiation regulation, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, April 2019, Taylor & Francis,
DOI: 10.1080/03080188.2019.1603864.
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