LNT: Diagnostic radiologist Bill Sacks on hormesis effect

Dr. Sacks is the author of the BraveNewClimate.com guest post titled “Lessons about nuclear energy from the Japanese quake and tsunami.” I thought his associated comment on the training of US radiologists clarifies why the LNT hypothesis is not more frequently criticized in the literature.

One other point to GCB who had the nuclear medicine imaging study: In the U.S. at least, and I don’t know about Australia, radiologists and nuclear physicians, as well as technologists who take the images, are all trained in the principle ALARA, which stands for as low as reasonably achievable, when it comes to doses of ionizing radiation. I know, because I’m a diagnostic radiologist, and I trained for one year in nuclear medicine, as well. When I first learned of the hormetic effect 8 years ago, from a health physicist, I was already 18 years into my radiology career. I cannot find a single other radiologist who is aware of even the concept of hormesis, never mind whether they believe it. We are all trained in the LNT approach. So if Dr. Karamoskos believes in it, it may be because Australian radiologists and nuclear physicians are also not trained in hormesis.

For me LNT was a case of cognitive dissonance that was dispelled in an instant, when I first heard about hormesis. After all, I knew that the body is capable of developing defense reactions to invasion of germs, chemicals, and other invaders, so it made instantaneous sense that the same would hold for radiation, particularly since humans evolved in a sea of radiation.

Dr. Karamoskos, in short, may be a victim of his training. The best that radiologists and nuclear physicians with that training can do is weigh the assumed risks of radiation against the known probably benefits, and that indeed is adequate for them to advise patients that the radiation will do them more good than harm. For me, it’s simply a distortion of the truth, and without an understanding of hormesis in virtually all chemical and physical influences it is difficult for many people to accept nuclear energy.