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Animal Studies of Life Shortening and Cancer Risk from Space Radiation
SCHOOL OF AEROSPACE MEDICINE BROOKS AFB TX
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The U.S. Air Force study of the delayed effects of single, total body exposures to simulated space radiation in rhesus monkeys is now in its 21st year. Observations on 301 irradiated and 57 age-matched control animals indicate that life expectancy loss from exposure to protons in the energy range encountered in the Van Allen belts and solar proton events can be expressed as a logarithmic function of the dose. The primary causes of life shortening are cancer and endometriosis an abnormal proliferation of the lining of the uterus in females. Life shortening estimates permit comparison of the risk associated with space radiation exposures to be compared with that of other occupational and environmental hazards, thereby facilitating riskbenefit decisions in the planning and operational phases of manned space missions. Calculations of the relative risk of fatal cancers in the irradiated subjects reveal that the total body surface dose required to double the risk of death from cancer over a 20-year post exposure period varies with the linear energy transfer LET of the radiation. The ability to determine the integrated dose and LET spectrum in space radiation exposures of humans is, therefore, critical to the assessment of life time cancer risk.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE