High doses of radiation affect many cells, which can result in tissue or organ damage, which ultimately leads to one of the acute radiation syndromes. Even normally radio-resistant cells, such as those in the brain, cannot withstand the cell-killing capability of very high radiation doses. Radiation therapy uses doses of ionizing radiation that are sufficient to destroy malignant cells while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue.
Radiation damages DNA, interfering with the genetic code that tells cells how to function and grow. This can lead directly to cancer or other diseases. Radiation therapy helps prevent cancer by killing tumor cells. It also has an anti-cancer effect by causing tumors to shrink so that they are less likely to spread throughout the body. Radiation therapy may also be used to treat cancers that have not yet grown into the size that can be removed by surgery.
Cells are the building blocks of tissues, including bone marrow, skin, muscle, and fat. They play a key role in preventing disease by fighting infection and repairing damaged tissue. Ionizing radiation can cause serious damage to living tissue, including cancer, if enough cells are killed during treatment. Radiation therapy uses extremely high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells without harming normal cells.
The quality of life for people who have cancer will often be affected by the side effects of treatment, especially if there is no benefit seen from the initial surgery or chemotherapy.
Ionizing radiation produces two sorts of harm to people when the dose is high enough: direct tissue destruction and cancer. Direct tissue damage occurs when enough molecules are torn apart that the cells are unable to function. Radiation burns, radiation illness, organ failure, and even death can result from this. Cancer is an even more insidious threat because it can develop years after just a few doses of radiation.
The type of radiation used in medical imaging is called ionizing radiation. It can come from many sources including x-rays, CT scans, and nuclear medicine tests. Exposure to ionizing radiation can be harmful if enough of it is absorbed by body tissues. The amount of exposure that causes injury depends on the level of activity involved and the total dose received. With chronic low-level exposures, no apparent effects will occur until the cumulative dose reaches about 5% of the annual limit set by government agencies such as the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). At higher doses, immediate symptoms will appear.
The major concern regarding exposure to ionizing radiation is its ability to cause cancer. Radiation damages DNA, interfering with the process by which cells divide and specialize during growth and development. This can lead to cancer later in life. The risk increases with increasing dose and with time since exposure. The longer between exposure and development of cancer, the less likely it is that cancer will occur.
Ionizing radiation, in high levels, can cause instant harm to a person's body, including radiation sickness and death. Even at low levels, ionizing radiation is a carcinogen; it causes cancer largely by causing DNA damage. Radiation exposure also increases the risk of other health problems, such as heart disease and neurological disorders.
Ionizing radiation comes in three forms: X-rays, gamma rays, and ultraviolet (UV) light. Most radiation from radioactivity is ionizing radiation. When atoms or molecules are struck with energetic particles, they can be knocked out of their normal energy state and change color. This is called "ionization." Ions created by ionization are called "radiation," and any object that contains this type of radiation is called "radioactive."
Ionizing radiation is responsible for the harmful effects observed in people who are exposed to high levels of radiation for long periods of time. Such effects include cancer, genetic mutations, blood diseases, reproductive issues, and cognitive defects. At lower levels of exposure over a longer period of time, there is some evidence that radiation may also cause heart disease and neurological problems. The danger from radiation depends on how much you are exposed to and for how long. The more radiation you are exposed to, the greater the risk of injury to your health.
High dosages kill cells, whereas lesser amounts harm or modify them. High dosages can cause tissue and organ damage by killing so many cells. This, in turn, may result in a fast whole-body response known as Acute Radiation Syndrome (ARS). ARS includes severe diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, confusion, loss of appetite, and bleeding from any site other than the gut. These symptoms usually go away on their own but can be treated with medication.
Radiation exposure also has long-term effects. Cells in the body's organs such as the heart, lungs, brain, and gonads (testes or ovaries) continue to divide after an individual has stopped getting radiation doses. Over time, these cells are damaged by radiation and become less able to perform their normal functions. For this reason, people who have undergone radiation treatments should undergo regular cancer screenings throughout their lives.
Cancers are caused by mutations to DNA. Radiation damages DNA, which can lead to mutations if it breaks the chemical bonds within the DNA strand. These mutations could be good or bad, but they all show up as changes in the genetic code. Some mutations lead to cancers forming years or even decades later. Others may not cause diseases until they occur in certain sensitive tissues or at certain times in a person's life.
Cancers can also be caused by mutations to proteins that influence the risk of developing various cancers.
Too much radiation (above 50,000 mrem) might cause moderate gastrointestinal difficulties (such as nausea and vomiting), blood alterations, and central nervous system damage. High radiation doses have resulted in malignancies (leukemia, breast, ovarian, pancreatic, etc.) and death. Radiation exposure from medical tests can also cause cancer.
Biological effects of nuclear radiation are numerous and vary depending on the amount of radiation received. The most common health effects of radiation exposure include skin burns, hair loss, digestive problems, reproductive issues, cancer, and death. Exposure to high levels of radiation can cause these effects immediately or over time.
Health effects will vary for individuals based on their gender, age, weight, level of exposure, and other factors. Children, pregnant women, and people with existing health conditions should not be exposed to higher levels of radiation than others.
Radiation is energy that comes in different forms, such as light, heat, and radio waves. Nuclear radiation is energy released by atomic changes inside an element when it undergoes a nuclear reaction. There are two main types of nuclear radiation: ionizing and non-ionizing. Ionizing radiation causes cells to break down because its particles hit molecules inside cells and knock them out of place. This can lead to mutations and cancer. Non-ionizing radiation cannot cause physical damage directly, but it can still have an impact on DNA through indirect mechanisms.
Excessive radiation exposure, such as being near an atomic bomb, can result in acute health problems such as skin burns and acute radiation syndrome ("radiation sickness"). It can potentially have long-term health consequences including cancer and cardiovascular problems. Radiation also has been implicated in global warming because it produces heat when it breaks down organic matter.
People are exposed to radiation in many ways. The main sources of radiation exposure for adults are naturally occurring radioactivity in the soil and food supply and artificial radiation from medical tests and treatments. Children are exposed through their consumption of fruit and vegetables contaminated with radioactive material that has been released into the environment by nuclear testing or accidents at nuclear power plants and factories. The main source of radiation exposure for children is therefore food.
The amount of radiation you are exposed to depends on how far you are from a nuclear reactor, test site or other source of radiation. With increasing distance, your risk of exposure decreases. You can reduce the amount of radiation to which you are exposed by eating only organic fruit and vegetables, if possible. However, there is still some level of contamination even in organic produce so this approach cannot eliminate your exposure entirely.
Radiation affects human beings by causing mutations to our DNA. These mutations can lead to cancer later in life.