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Low-Level Radiation Exposure has Beneficial Effects on Small Mammals


Researchers of a study published in the latest issue of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry tested the hypothesis that low doses of gamma radiation have beneficial effects. Researchers Rudy Boonstra, Richard G. Manzon, Steve Mihok, and Julie E. Helson found that low, chronic doses of gamma radiation produced apparent hormetic effects associated with an increase in longevity in natural populations of meadow voles.

Hormesis is defined as a phenomenon where low doses of an otherwise harmful agent can result in stimulatory or beneficial effects. This phenomenon has been observed in a broad range of chemicals including alcohol and its metabolites, antibiotics, hydrocarbons, herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides, as well as physical processes such as radiation exposure and caloric restriction.

Effects of hormesis have been observed in a wide range of organisms, from microbes and fungi to plants and animals. Hormetic responses are varied in form and include increased longevity; growth, reproductive, and physiological responses; and metabolic effects.

The researchers’ findings suggest that a moderate increase in glucocorticoid levels, associated with low-level radiation, could be an important factor underlying the increase in longevity that has been observed in other studies on small mammals exposed to low-level radiation.

To read the entire study, click here:

Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry is a monthly journal published by the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). For more information, visit

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