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Ionizing Radiation From Tobacco

Jerome B. Westin, MD, PhD
JAMA. 1987;257(16):2169. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390160055025.
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To the Editor.—  Accidents at nuclear power facilities seem inevitably to bring in their wake a great deal of concern on the part of both the lay and medical communities. Relatively little attention, however, is given to what may be the largest single worldwide source of effectively carcinogenic ionizing radiation: tobacco. Let us take last year's Chernobyl disaster as an example.It has been calculated that here in Israel by year's end, although we are some distance from the Soviet Union, we shall all have absorbed an average of 4 mrem (40 μSv) of excess whole-body radiation due to the Chernobyl accident. Using the estimate chosen by Doll and Peto,1 that the lifetime risk of fatal cancer per rem of whole-body dose is about 250 per million population, we should expect a lifetime excess of four cancer deaths among Israel's population of 4 million.In sharp contrast to this


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