Radiation has long been recognized as a carcinogen. After the use of atomic weapons in Japan, several studies indicated increased rates of cancer among the surviving population. The National Academies of Sciences has more recently determined that there is no safe dose of radiation – that is that ANY dose of radiation, no matter how small, carries with it the risk of cancer.
We encounter radiation in several forms today. Perhaps the most common is with medical and dental x-rays. While it may seem routine, these doses of radiation carry with them a risk of cancer that the National Academies has determined may be significant. Radiologists and x-ray technicians are particularly susceptible, as they are often exposed to radiation in the routine of their work. We can also be exposed to radiation through air and water pollution from nuclear power plants, depleted uranium weaponry, or radon in our drinking water and homes.
Radiation is thought to be capable of causing cancer at any site, however it is commonly associated with brain tumors, leukemia, lung cancer, and breast cancer. Radiation has also been associated with heart disease and other maladies commonly lumped together as “low level radiation sickness.”