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Genetic Damage From Diagnostic Radiation? A Critique of the Bross and Natarajan Study

Bernard E. Oppenheim, MD
JAMA. 1979;242(13):1390-1393. doi:10.1001/jama.1979.03300130034015.
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BROSS and Natarajan1 have presented the hypothesis that low-dose fetal irradiation in the range of 0.5 to 5.0 rads confines its damage to 1% of the irradiated subjects and that for this "affected" group there is a 5,000% increase in the risk of leukemia as compared with unexposed subjects. Earlier studies2-7 have indicated an increased risk of leukemia of approximately 50% following such radiation, so this hypothesis would suggest that for the "affected" group the radiation is 100 times more dangerous than previously suspected. Bross and Natarajan claimed that their arguments established "clear prima facie evidence that exposure to the low levels of ionizing radiation can produce a drastically increased risk of leukemia." Using somewhat similar reasoning applied to data on adult exposures, Bross and associates constructed dosage response curves for the 1-rad range, from which they concluded that the hazards of exposure in this range are an


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