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The team found that low doses of radiation increase the number of cells with mutations in p53, a well-known genetic change associated with cancer. However, giving the mice an antioxidant before radiation promoted the growth of healthy cells, which outcompeted and replaced the p53 mutant cells.
The results, published today (18 July) in Cell Stem Cell show that low doses of radiation promote the spread of cancer-capable cells in healthy tissue. Researchers recommend that this risk should be considered in assessing radiation safety. The study also offers the possibility of developing non-toxic preventative measures to cut the risk of developing cancer by bolstering our healthy cells to outcompete and eradicate cancer-capable cells.
Day - Sources - Radiation - Radiation - Soil
Every day we are exposed to various sources of ionising radiation, including natural radiation in soil and rock, and important medical procedures like CT scans and x-rays.
Low doses of radiation, such as the exposure from medical imaging, are considered safe as they cause little DNA damage and apparently minimal effect on long-term health. Until now, other effects of exposure to low levels of radiation have remained hidden, meaning understanding the true risk associated with low doses of radiation has been difficult.
Researchers - Tissues - Skin - Battlefields - Cells
Researchers have previously shown that our normal tissues, like skin, are battlefields where mutant cells compete for space against healthy cells. We all have cancer-capable mutant cells in healthy tissues, including those with p53 mutations, which increase in number as we age, yet very few eventually go on to form cancer.
In this new study, researchers show that low doses of radiation weigh the odds in favour of cancer-capable mutant cells in the esophagus. The Sanger Institute researchers and their collaborators gave mice a 50 milligray dose of radiation, equivalent to three or four CT scans. As a result, the p53 mutant cells spread and outcompeted healthy cells.
Dr - David - Fernandez-Antoran
Dr David Fernandez-Antoran, first...
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