As a result of these epidemiological studies, it was found that the mammary gland, skin, and colon, etc. are tissues and organs that are easily affected by radiation and develop cancer.
The radiation will begin to destroy the cells in the body that divide rapidly. These including blood, GI tract, reproductive and hair cells, and ultimately harms their DNA and RNA of surviving cells.
Reproductive and gastrointestinal cells are not regenerating as quickly and are less sensitive. The nerve and muscle cells are the slowest to regenerate and are the least sensitive cells.
These effects include radiation sickness and death, cataracts, sterility, loss of hair, reduced thyroid function and skin radiation burns. The severity of these effects increases with the size of the dose. Radiation Sickness - At doses of about 60 rem, 5% of exposed individuals may vomit.
The digestive tract is among the most radiosensitive organs in the body and its function, which is partly regulated by gastrointestinal (GI) peptides, can be affected by radiation exposure.
A blackbody allows all incident radiation to pass into it (no reflected energy) and internally absorbs all the incident radiation (no energy transmitted through the body). This is true for radiation of all wavelengths and for all angles of incidence. Hence the blackbody is a perfect absorber for all incident radiation.
An internally deposited radioactive element may concentrate in, and thus irradiate, certain organs more than others. Radioiodine, for example, collects in the thyroid gland, whereas radium and strontium accumulate chiefly in the bones. Different radioelements also vary in their rates of removal.
Gamma rays are the most harmful external hazard. Beta particles can partially penetrate skin, causing “beta burns”. Alpha particles cannot penetrate intact skin. Gamma and x-rays can pass through a person damaging cells in their path.
Radiation therapy involves giving high doses of radiation beams directly into a tumor. The radiation beams change the DNA makeup of the tumor, causing it to shrink or die. This type of cancer treatment has fewer side effects than chemotherapy since it only targets one area of the body.
The most common early side effects are fatigue (feeling tired) and skin changes. Other early side effects usually are related to the area being treated, such as hair loss and mouth problems when radiation treatment is given to this area. Late side effects can take months or even years to develop.
Ionizing radiation particles have in common the physical ability to generate free radicals that may cause direct or indirect DNA damage, but may also provide a source of metabolic stress to which the central nervous system (CNS) is particularly susceptible as compared to other tissue types2.
Gamma rays have so much penetrating power that several inches of a dense material like lead, or even a few feet of concrete may be required to stop them. Gamma rays can pass completely through the human body; as they pass through, they can cause ionizations that damage tissue and DNA.
It is a local treatment, which means it treats a specific part of your body. For example, if you have cancer in your lung, you will have radiation only to your chest, not to your whole body. External beam radiation therapy is used to treat many types of cancer.
Blood cells have the highest turnover rate in our bodies, so the tissue where they are produced — the rapidly dividing cells of the bone marrow — is the most susceptible to radiation damage.
Typically, people have treatment sessions 5 times per week, Monday through Friday. This schedule usually continues for 3 to 9 weeks, depending on your personal treatment plan. This type of radiation therapy only targets the tumor. But it will affect some healthy tissue surrounding the tumor.
Don't wear tight clothing over the treatment area. It's important not to rub, scrub or scratch any sensitive spots. Also avoid putting anything that is very hot or very cold—such as heating pads or ice packs—on your treated skin.
Expect each treatment session to last approximately 10 to 30 minutes. In some cases, a single treatment may be used to help relieve pain or other symptoms associated with more-advanced cancers. During a treatment session, you'll lie down in the position determined during your radiation simulation session.
Staying inside will reduce your exposure to radiation. Close and lock windows and doors. Take a shower or wipe exposed parts of your body with a damp cloth. Drink bottled water and eat food in sealed containers.
By far the largest source of natural radiation exposure comes from varying amounts of uranium and thorium in the soil around the world. The radiation exposure due to cosmic rays is very dependent on altitude, and slightly on latitude: people who travel by air, thereby, increase their exposure to radiation.
If you are indoors during a radiation emergency:
Stay inside. Close and lock all windows and doors. Go to the basement or the middle of the building. Radioactive material settles on the outside of buildings; so the best thing to do is stay as far away from the walls and roof of the building as you can.
Some sources of the radiation stay in the body for only a short time. Others, like seeds and radioactive medicines stay in the body forever. But the radiation gets weaker and is used up over time. Internal radiation does make you radioactive for a short time.
"As a rule of thumb, 80 percent of decontamination is removing your clothes," says Toner, an emergency physician. "And 95 percent is removing your clothes and taking a shower — if possible, shampooing your hair.
Exposure to very high levels of radiation, such as being close to an atomic blast, can cause acute health effects such as skin burns and acute radiation syndrome (“radiation sickness"). It can also result in long-term health effects such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.