For the past five years, the Committee on the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR VII) of the National Academy of Science has reviewed and analyzed the health risks from exposure to low levels of radiation (X-rays and gamma rays.) This re-assessment followed a period of rich accumulation of biologic and epidemiologic data from 1990 on, the year of the last previous study (BEIR V.)
The scientific evidence showed that even low doses of radiation may pose a risk of cancer, and that there was no threshold below which exposure may be viewed as harmless. Lifetime excess risks were determined for 12 relatively common cancers. While the over-all risk of cancer at low radiation levels is small, the mortality in women is higher than in men, and infants are at greater risk than adults. The presentation will review the conclusions of the 700-page report.
Herbert L. Abrams, M.D., Professor Emeritus of Radiology at Stanford, was formerly Philip H. Cook Professor and Chairman of Radiology at Harvard, and has been a CISAC Member-in-Residence since 1985. He served as one of the two physicians on the BEIR VII committee, the other members, representing radiation biology, cancer biology, physics, epidemiology and genetics. The 1st edition of his three volume work, Abrams Angiography: Vascular and Interventional Radiology, was published in 1961, the fifth edition in 2005. He is the author or co-author of six other books on Congenital Heart Disease, Coronary Arteriography, Diagnostic Decision Making, Diagnostic Technology Assessment, and Presidential Disability and of over 200 refereed papers on cardiovascular disease, health policy, disabled leadership, human instability in the nuclear forces, and inadvertent nuclear war. A member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, he was also the founding Vice-President of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), recipient of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize.