Radiation Impact on Health and Prevention of its Effects

Prevent radiation Health Effects

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What is ionizing radiation?

Radiation can be classified according to its effect on matter. Normally, “radiation” refers to ionizing radiation[1], meaning the separation of electrons from its atoms, such as cosmic rays, X-rays, as well as the radiation emitted by radioactive materials, which can cause detrimental health effects.

Whether undergoing diagnostic imaging (e.g., a CT scan), flying long-haul, or even at home, (especially if not well ventilated) we are exposed to ionizing radiation.

This affects the way we age: radiation exposure has been associated with a reduction of lifespan by inducing tumors, cardiovascular diseases, and brain cell diseases such as Alzheimer or Parkinson disease.

What are the main sources of radiation exposure?

Radiation is present in nature, and little can be done to avoid it completely. In addition to the sun’s natural radiation, and naturally radioactive materials (like radon), we must now add an increasing exposure to artificial sources of radiation (X-rays, other medical imaging equipment, electronic appliances, nuclear radiation due to energy production, military use…).

Exposure to ionizing radiation comes mainly from [2]:

Worldwide Distribution of Radiation Exposure

Distribution of radiation exposure. Image reproduces from Radiation effects and sources. 2016. United Nations Environment Program.

Environment: radioactive atoms are present in the environment, especially on the upper 25 cm of the earth’s crust, but also in building construction materials (radiation from the decay of radon and uranium): for instance living in a well isolated house, especially when it is cold outside, increases the exposure to radon decay (a colorless and odorless radioactive gas that may accumulate inside buildings). Another source of environmental radioactivity is nuclear accidents such as Chernobyl (Ukraine 1986) or Fukushima (Japan 2011). Lastly, nuclear power generation can also generate environmental radiation.

Occupational conditions: according to the 2008 report by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, about 23 million workers worldwide are exposed occupationally to ionizing radiation. This includes mainly coal and non-coal miners, medical workers, nuclear industry workers, and airline crews. Their exposure is due to their daily labor conditions, but accidental over-exposures can exist. In the case of airline crews, for instance, flying at high altitude reduces the shield effect of the atmosphere to cosmic radiation, which is considered to “increase risk of fatal cancer, or of genetic defects in future generations” (Federal Aviation Administration)[3].

Medical use: people who live in a developed country, with a good level of medical care, will probably be exposed to radiation associated with diagnostic or radiotherapy equipment. These are generally small amounts of radiation in controlled conditions, applied to obtain a great benefit. However, negative effects on health are also well-known.

Military uses: the main exposure of military uses corresponds to the detonation of atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in Japan 1945; but also, to atmospheric testing of nuclear bombs (1945-80).

Therefore environmental and medical exposure to radiation is highly likely for most of the population in their daily life. Additionally we may also be exposed to occupational radiation.

What are the health effects associated with radiation?

Early health effects[4]are caused by exposure to high doses of radiation (unusual exposures, associated to nuclear accidents or military uses) responsible for extensive cell death or damage. The severity of the effect is dose-dependent and can lead to death due to massive central nervous system damage, or to acute radiation syndrome. In both cases, death can occur in a matter of days to weeks.

On the other hand, delayed health effects are more likely to occur without the need of high unusual doses of radiation. They usually happen long after exposure, and the higher the dose, the stronger the likelihood to suffer some delayed health effect (or even an early health effect if high enough).

The present understanding is that these effects are related with genetic modifications due to the radiation. It is well known that radiation damages DNA (and in fact, this is the basis of radiotherapy to fight cancer) and DNA damage may lead to cell mutation or death.

The following are examples of levels of exposure:

1)    A chest X-ray, delivers 0.1 mSv

2)    A chest CT delivers 10 mSv (100 times as much)

3)    In radiotherapy, doses higher than 1000 mSv are used

Radiation Levels Of Exposure
Exposure to radiation in different circumstances. Image taken from Radiation effects and sources. 2016. United Nations Environment Program.

What are the risks of high levels of radiation exposure?

The total high radiation dose needed in radiotherapy is fractionated in smaller doses, focused on the tumor, given in several sessions so as to reduce undesired effects of radiation on other tissues, while killing the existing tumor with the accumulated radiation. While this is a beneficial use of radiation exposure, the risk of generating future tumors is well known.

Analysis of the data associated with in vivo studies and the follow-up of human radiation exposure related to military use or accidents (e.g., in Japan, Nevada (US), Ukraine[5]) show that radiation exposure shortens lifespan, mainly by tumor induction and death by cancer. On the other hand, cardiovascular, circulatory, and central nervous system affections have also been described in people exposed to high levels of radiation (nuclear bomb survivors, Chernobyl cleaners of contaminated areas…).

However, this is not the only effect of radiation, given that, as described, radiation induces senescence in different brain cell types, which could result in the development of various neurological and neuropsychological disorders (including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease).

What are the risks of low levels of radiation exposure?

Sodickson et al evaluated the potential risk of suffering from cancer due to CT scans on 31,462 patients from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston over the course of 22 years. Normal population in the US has a 42% of overall risk of developing cancer. These CT scans-exposed group has an additional 0.7% risk (to a final 42.7% risk). However, patients receiving multiple scans had higher increases ranging from 2.7% to 12% (to a total 44.7% to 54% risk). 33% of the studied group received more than 5 CT scans, a 5% from 22 to 132 scans. Previously, Brenner and Hall (2007)[6] predicted that 1.5%–2.0% of all US population cancers may be caused by CT radiation exposure. CT scans have grown in the US from 3 million (1980) to 80 million scans nowadays[7].

According to the American Cancer Society, past radiation exposure is one risk factor for most kinds of leukemia.

What are the best ways to prevent radiation health effects?

According to a report issued in March 2009 by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, about 50% of total radiation exposure in the US comes from medical sources, 25% from CT scans[8].

The Harvard Health Publishing’s (Harvard Medical School) recommendation to minimize the undesired effects of radiation is to: “Discuss any high-dose diagnostic imaging with your clinician. Keep track of your X-ray history. Consider a lower-dose radiation test. Consider less-frequent testing. Do not seek out scans.”

Briefly, to reduce any sources of radiation. However, in many cases this cannot be avoided.

The Center of Disease Control and Prevention describes three potential treatments to reduce some of the deleterious effects of radiation: potassium iodine (to avoid the accumulation of radioactive iodine in the thyroid gland when environment may carry such radioactive iodine), Prussian blue (a sequestering agent for certain metals that can be used as an antidote) and Neupogen (a white cell booster to increase immune response against mutated cells).

However, none of the above treatments protect DNA directly and are only intended in certain cases of radiation emergencies when instructed by public health emergency response officials or a healthcare provider.

How can CIRCE Scientific researches help in reducing the harmful effects of radiation?  

Research on aging and DNA protection has started to bear fruit, and some useful nutrients and active ingredients have already been identified for their positive effects on health after radiation exposure.

CIRCE Scientific is completing the development of a nutraceutical formula based on their own research on PTEROVITA along with a patented synergistic combination with another polyphenol. This combination is based on a recent publication of Elena Obrador et al. (University of Valencia, Health Research Institute IIS La Fe) that showed an impressive radioprotective effect in mice of a polyphenol-based combination against lethal ionizing radiation[9].

In their efficacy demonstration a number of mice were exposed to a lethal dose of gamma radiation. In the control group of the experiment (having taken no treatment), 50% of mice suffering a lethal gamma radiation died within 30 days (and 95% died within 60 days). However, treatment with a combination including two natural antioxidants and sirtuin activators (pterostilbene and silibinin) resulted in 100% survival at 30 days, 80% at 60 days (16 times more survivors than the control group), 50% at 120 days, 20% at one year. 

Image from Obrador et al. “Combination of natural polyphenols with a precursor of NAD+ and a TLR2/6 ligand lipopeptide protects mice against lethal γ radiation”.

Further work was carried out including additional compounds (one as an injection after the radiation dose for DNA repair), which led to an impressive 90% survival one year after the lethal irradiation. These results are even more relevant if we take into account that mice lifespan in normal conditions is between 24 and 30 months[10].

This unique patented combination is synergistic in sequestering free radicals (as antioxidants) and activating DNA repair (through their sirtuins activation). This allows to dramatically reduce the harmful effects of radiation going as far as allowing the mice to survive a lethal radiation dose. In addition, the results showed that this combination did not reduce the radiotherapy efficacy in an in vivo model.

By taking a daily dose of CIRCE Scientific’s patented combination of two natural antioxidants you could activate your body’s DNA repair capacity and reduce the potential impact of the unavoidable radiation exposure on your daily life. This may allow you to reduce the risk of cardiovascular or neurodegenerative diseases or tumors and increase your health span.

CIRCE Scientific Radioprotective Combo 

CIRCE Scientific’s PTEROVITA has shown to significantly increase Pterostilbene bioavailability. In addition to having a proprietary highly bioavailable Pterostilbene, CIRCE Scientific has acquired the Patent rights from the University of Valencia and Health Research Institute (IIS La Fe) for this combination of natural polyphenols, as Pterovita has shown to be able to achieve the pterostilbene blood level concentration needed and replicating these extraordinary results.


[1] https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/newhomeroc/roc11/ir_rg2_public_508.pdf X Radiation & gamma Radiation and Neutrons, June 18, 2003. Technology Planning and Management Corporation, for U.S.Department of Health and Human Services

[2] https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/newhomeroc/roc11/ir_rg2_public_508.pdf X Radiation & gamma Radiation and Neutrons, June 18, 2003. Technology Planning and Management Corporation, for U.S.Department of Health and Human Services

[3] https://www.faa.gov/data_research/research/med_humanfacs/oamtechreports/2000s/media/0316.pdf What Aircrews Should Know About Their Occupational Exposure to Ionizing Radiation. Friedberg W., Copeland K. October 2003

[4] https://www.unscear.org/unscear/en/publications/radiation-effects-and-sources.html Radiation effects and sources. UNEP. UNSCEAR Publications. 2016

[5] https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190725-will-we-ever-know-chernobyls-true-death-toll

[6] Brenner DJ, Hall EJ. Computed tomography: an increasing source of radiation exposure. N Engl J Med 2007;357:2277–2284

[7] https://www.health.harvard.edu/cancer/radiation-risk-from-medical-imaging

[8] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090303125809.htm

[9] Obrador E, Salvador-Palmer R, Pellicer B, López-Blanch R, Sirerol JA, Villaescusa JI, Montoro A, Dellinger RW, Estrela JM. Combination of natural polyphenols with a precursor of NAD+ and a TLR2/6 ligand lipopeptide protects mice against lethal γ radiation. J Adv Res. 2022 May 13:S2090-1232(22)00117-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jare.2022.05.005. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35599107

[10] https://www.jax.org/news-and-insights/jax-blog/2017/november/when-are-mice-considered-old

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