Aging, cancer, and why radiation might be a good thing

From: Brian Atkins (
Date: Fri Apr 13 2001 - 23:18:40 MDT

There is an interesting article in the March 17 New Scientist called "Cruel
to be Kind" about the research work of Thomas Johnson. His lab site is here:

unfortunately I can't find the article online so far. But it talks about
how a little bit of radiation and other kinds of stress might actually be
a good thing. For instance studies of thousands of nuclear workers that
are exposed to something like 10 times the normal background radiation
live on average 17% longer than "normal" people, and have HALF the amount
of cancer. Also of interest is just the general fact that cancer used to
be far less common in the 19th and earlier centuries. Some people claim
this is due to people living longer in 20th century and other factors like
widespread smoking, but could it also be due to the fact that we are living
such stress-free (in terms of physical environment, not mental stress...)
lives that our immune systems are slacking off? The EPA is running a study
now on whether low-level radiation would be beneficial... by 2003 you may
be encouraged to take vitamins containing radionuclides.

Brian Atkins
Director, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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