Guidance

Human radiosensitivity

AGIR's 10th report (RCE-21) reviews variation in human radiosensitivity and how this might impact on approaches to radiological protection.

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RCE-21: human radiosensitivity

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This report prepared by the Advisory Group on Ionising Radiation (AGIR) and its subgroup considers evidence for variation in human radiosensitivity from epidemiological, clinical and experimental studies, considers mechanisms of radiosensitivity and ethical implications of current and potential future knowledge on the range of radiosensitivity in the human population.

It concludes that there is growing evidence from a range of sources for variation in radiosensitivity that can affect the risk of radiation-induced cancer or, at higher doses, tissue damage. A proportion of this range is likely to have a genetic origin but there is also substantial evidence for lifestyle factors, and particularly tobacco smoking, affecting individual risk.

Currently there is no adequate test predictive of individual radiation health risk, but knowledge is accumulating and therefore consideration of how this new knowledge might be used in radiological protection is important and timely.

Published 1 March 2013