More people than ever are exposed to higher levels of ionising radiation, whether it’s through medical equipment, air travel or nuclear-based tech.
Now scientists have discovered that repeat exposure to such radiation may contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
In a new study, an international team of researchers found that relatively low radiation doses trigger molecular alterations in the hippocampi of mice.
“We exposed the mice to a more than 1000 times smaller cumulative dose than what a patient gets from a single CT scan in the same time interval,” said Stefan J. Kempf, a postdoc at the University of Southern Denmark. “And even then we could see changes in the synapses within the hippocampus that resemble Alzheimer´s pathology.”
Kempf said we need to learn more about the impact of chronic occupational radiation exposure such as from nuclear technologies or flying, and the impact of medical radiation, such as CT scans and therapeutic radiology.
“All these kinds of exposures are low dose and as long as we talk about one or a few exposures in a lifetime I do not see cause for concern,” Kempf added. “What concerns me is that modern people may be exposed several times in their lifetime and that we don’t know enough about the consequences of accumulated doses.”
The study, published in Oncotarget, indicates that chronic low-dose-rate radiation targets the integration of newborn neurons in existing synaptic wires.