ACR chair asks Congress for radiation research funds

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The American College of Radiology (ACR) is urging a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee to provide funding for low-dose medical radiation research to ensure future safety practices.

On November 1, Dr. James Brink, chair of the ACR's board of chancellors, told the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology's subcommittee on energy that additional research is needed, given the diverging views on the effects of radiation exposure.

"Not everyone in the scientific community agrees with the validity of extrapolating cancer risk for low-dose radiation exposure based on data from individuals who received high doses of radiation," Brink said. "Some believe there is a threshold below which radiation exposure should not be a concern. While exposure to lower doses may damage or alter a cell's genetic code or DNA, such exposure does not necessarily result in negative health consequences."

Brink also praised the work of the National Academy of Sciences' Board on Radiation Effects Research (BEIR), which addresses the health effects of exposure of human populations to low-dose ionizing radiation. The last BEIR report, however, was issued in 2006.

"There is a need for an update to the BEIR report series that critically looks at the research and provides a balanced perspective on the significance of research and knowledge in this field over the past decade," he added.

The ACR has endorsed the Low-Dose Radiation Research Act from the last congressional session, which would have required the director of the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science to carry out research on low-dose radiation to advance the scientific understanding of and reduce uncertainties associated with the effects of low-dose radiation exposure.

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