FIGURE PS-3 The committee finds the linear no-threshold (LNT) model to be a computationally convenient starting point. Actual risk estimates improve upon this simplified model by using a dose and dose-rate effectiveness factor (DDREF), which is a multiplicative adjustment that results in downward estimation of risk and is roughly equivalent to using the line labeled “Linear No-Threshold” (low dose rate). The latter is the zero-dose tangent of the linear-quadratic model. While it would be possible to use the linear-quadratic model directly, the DDREF adjustment to the linear model is used to conform with historical precedent dictated in part by simplicity of calculations. In the low-dose range of interest, there is essentially no difference between the two. Source: Modified from Brenner and colleagues.17

diation exposure using the BEIR VII risk models. Next, the section explains how the absence of evidence for induced adverse heritable effects in the children of survivors of atomic bombs is consistent with the genetic risk estimated through the use of the doubling dose method in this report.

At doses less than 40 times the average yearly background exposure (100 mSv), statistical limitations make it difficult to evaluate cancer risk in humans. A comprehensive review of the biology data led the committee to conclude that the risk would continue in a linear fashion at lower doses without a threshold and that the smallest dose has the potential to cause a small increase in risk to humans. This assumption is termed the “linear no-threshold model” (see Figure PS-3).

The BEIR VII committee has developed and presented in Chapter 12 the committee’s best risk estimates for exposure to low-dose, low-LET radiation in human subjects. An example of how the data-based risk models developed in this report can be used to evaluate the risk of radiation exposure is illustrated in Figure PS-4. This example calculates the expected cancer risk from a single exposure of 0.1 Sv. The risk depends on both sex and age at exposure, with higher risks for females and for those exposed at younger ages. On

FIGURE PS-4 In a lifetime, approximately 42 (solid circles) of 100 people will be diagnosed with cancer (calculated from Table 12-4 of this report). Calculations in this report suggest that approximately one cancer (star) per 100 people could result from a single exposure to 0.1 Sv of low-LET radiation above background.


Brenner, D.J., R. Doll, D.T. Goodhead, E.J. Hall, C.E. Land, J.B. Little, J.H. Lubin, D.L. Preston, R.J. Preston, J.S. Puskin, E. Ron, R.K. Sachs, J.M. Samet, R.B. Setlow, and M. Zaider. 2003. Cancer risks attributable to low doses of ionizing radiation: Assessing what we really know. P Natl Acad Sci USA 100:13761–13766.

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