Evidence for variation in human radiosensitivity and its potential impact on radiological protection

Simon Bouffler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Radiological protection standards generally assume that all members of the population are equally sensitive to the adverse health effects associated with radiation exposure, recognising the age- and sex-related differences in sensitivity to radiation-induced cancer. It has become very clear over recent years that genetic and lifestyle factors can play important roles in the susceptibility of individuals to a range of diseases; as such, the same may apply to radiation-associated diseases. Evidence is accumulating from studies at many levels of biological organisation – cells, experimental organisms, and humans – that a range of radiosensitivity exists between individuals in the population. Consideration of improvements in radiological protection practices to take account of such differences will require the availability of robust and accurate ways to assess the sensitivity of an individual or population subgroup. In addition, there will need to be careful consideration of the ethical aspects relating to use of individual sensitivity information. These ethical considerations are very likely to be exposure context dependent, and require careful risk–benefit balance consideration before practical application.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-289
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of the ICRP
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, © The International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics.


  • Cancer
  • Genetics
  • Ionising radiation
  • Radiological protection
  • Radiosensitivity


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