A New Era of Low-Dose Radiation Epidemiology.

The last decade has introduced a new era of epidemiologic studies of low-dose radiation facilitated by electronic record linkage and pooling of cohorts that allow for more direct and powerful assessments of cancer and other stochastic effects at doses below 100 mGy. Such studies have provided additional evidence regarding the risks of cancer, particularly leukemia, associated with lower-dose radiation exposures from medical, environmental, and occupational radiation sources, and have questioned the previous findings with regard to possible thresholds for cardiovascular disease and cataracts. Integrated analysis of next generation genomic and epigenetic sequencing of germline and somatic tissues could soon propel our understanding further regarding disease risk thresholds, radiosensitivity of population subgroups and individuals, and the mechanisms of radiation carcinogenesis. These advances in low-dose radiation epidemiology are critical to our understanding of chronic disease risks from the burgeoning use of newer and emerging medical imaging technologies, and the continued potential threat of nuclear power plant accidents or other radiological emergencies.

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