Bernard L. Cohen
Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Volume 13, Number 3
October 1, 2008
It is commonly stated that “any radiation dose, no matter how small, can cause cancer.” The basis for that statement is the linearno threshold theory (LNT)–which might more appropriately be called “linear-no threshold hypothesis”—of radiation carcinogenesis. According to LNT, if a 1 Gy (100 rad) dose gives a cancer risk R, the risk from a dose of 0.01 Gy (1 rad) is R/100, the risk from 0.00001 Gy (1 millirad) is R/100,000, and so on. Thus the cancer risk is not zero regardless of how small the dose. However, over the past several years, many radiation health scientists have come to regard risk estimates in the low-dose region based on LNT as exaggerated or completely negligible.