New Study Links Low-Dose Radiation to Higher Lifetime Risk of Heart Disease

Mar, 2023 - By SMI

New Study Links Low-Dose Radiation to Higher Lifetime Risk of Heart Disease

According to a review examining the most current statistics that was published in The BMJ, low doses of ionizing radiation are associated with a marginally increased risk of heart disease.

The results show implications for patients and radiation workers who receive radiation exposure as part of medical care, and for policymakers involved in managing radiation exposure to the public. According to the editorial of the related article, these risks "must now be scrutinized in radiation protection in medicine and other fields." Although there is little strong evidence linking low-dose radiation exposure to heart disease (eg, diffuse doses from radiation therapy or nuclear work), it is well known that high-dose radiation exposure can harm the heart.

Researchers show that acute high-dose radiation exposure and, to a lesser extent, chronic low-dose radiation exposure are associated with the majority of cardiovascular diseases. Furthermore, the researchers claim that radiation degradation could have been significantly understated, suggesting a need to rethink radiation protection and dose optimization at low doses.

They eliminated datasets that were either uninformative or duplicated those of others, leaving 93 papers that were published primarily in the last decade that could be analyzed. The frequency (incidence) and numerous types of vascular illnesses were assessed in these investigations, which encompassed a wide range of dosages, and quick and protracted exposures.

After accounting for other significant characteristics including age at exposure, the researchers discovered consistent evidence for a dose-dependent increase in cardiovascular risks across a wide range of radiation levels. The findings show that radiation exposure causes cardiovascular illness at high doses and, to a lesser extent, at low doses. There are also some signs that the risk may differ between acute and chronic exposures, which calls for more research.

This heterogeneity is greatly reduced when only high-quality, moderate- or low-dose studies are considered, but the observed heterogeneity makes causal interpretation of these results difficult. Further research is needed to evaluate how disease risk factors and lifestyle changes affect radiation exposure.

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