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A field of science that studies the biological effects of ionizing radiation


Radiobiology (also called radiation biology) is a field of science concerned with the effects of ionizing radiation on organisms. Ionizing radiation is radiation in which an individual particle (for example, photon, electron, or helium nucleus) carries energy capable of displacing electrons from atoms or molecules, thereby producing ions. Alpha and beta particles, as well as gamma and x-rays, are all examples of ionizing radiation. Exposure to ionizing radiation may be harmful and sometimes lethal to organisms. For instance, it may cause burns and acute radiation syndrome (i.e. a condition characterized by cellular degradation due to damage to DNA). Some of the effects of ionizing radiation may be stochastic, i.e. the risk may increase as the dose of radiation increases. It may lead to teratogenesis, heart disease, and cognitive decline.

Nevertheless, ionizing radiation may also be applied for therapeutic purposes (i.e. radiation therapy). It is now used to treat certain cancers and thyrotoxicosis (a condition where there is an excessive thyroid hormone).

Radiobiology includes these topics for research. It aims to develop therapeutic effects as well as detrimental effects of ionizing radiation.

Also called:

  • Radiation biology

See also: