Various radiations and possible effects on human brains

Radiation is an invisible, odourless energy that has a lot of mystery surrounding exposure to it that may have varying effects, depending on its quantum of exposure, acute or chronic. The radiation used to destroy cancer cells can also hurt normal cells adjoin the area and also brain, that is radiated.

Radiation can cause changes in the brain tissue. Small blood vessels could slowly become scarred and blocked, reducing the flow of blood supply to different areas of the brain. This could lead to headaches, migraines, distortion in thinking, behavioural pattern and also hormonal imbalances.

Prolonged exposure to radiation can damage brain. Since brain cells do not reproduce, they won’t be damaged directly unless the exposure is prolonged. Like the heart, radiation kills nerve cells and small blood vessels and can cause seizures and immediate death.

Glands like thyroid, heart and blood system if exposed may also damage the brain through radiation sources. The thyroid gland is susceptible to radioactive iodine. Similarly, intense exposure to radioactive material would do immediate damage to small blood vessels and probably cause heart failure and brain death.

Some of the radiation one typically encounters includes alpha radiation, beta radiation, gamma radiation, and X-rays radiation. Most alpha radiation is not able to penetrate human skin, Beta radiation is a light and moderately penetrating, while Gamma radiation and X- rays are highly penetrating electromagnetic radiation and also could be dangerous to human body and brain.

X- rays are like gamma rays. X- rays, too, are penetrating radiation. Sealed radioactive sources and machines that emit gamma radiation and X-rays respectively constitute mainly an external hazard to humans and their brains. Gamma radiation and X- rays are electromagnetic radiation like visible light, radiowaves, and ultraviolet light. These electromagnetic radiations differ only in the amount of energy they have and are the most energetic of these.

Besides this, neutron radiation is also emitted around nuclear power plants and during high-altitude flight and also emitted from some industrial radioactive sources. Another form of radiation called radiotherapy, where one could develop brain tumour many years after they are first treated through this radiotherapy. This is because, although radiation kills cancer cells, it is also a risk factor for developing them. Unfortunately, tumours caused by previous radiotherapy tend not to respond very well to treatment. The tumours might be high grade and grow more quickly.

On the other hand, radiation emanating from mobile phones isn’t harmful as stated by the World Health Organisation. Mobile phones emit radio, electromagnetic and thermal waves. Research published in journals indicate that radio and electromagnetic waves can trigger responses from the nerves in the ears, face and scalp during use, causing dysesthesia, an unpleasant nerve pain. However, these are uncommon. This occurs only in certain people who are hypersensitive to the waves, according to research. Another possibility is thermal waves, which is heat that dissipates into the inner ear, affecting the eardrums and the fluids in the cochlear.

According to University Malaya Faculty of Medicine professor of Medical Physics Dr Ng Kwan-Hoong, although mobile phones are a source of radiation, they aren’t detrimental to general health. “Radiowaves carry a certain amount of energy, or radiation, but the level is very low to cause any hazard to human health. There is no established clinically validated symptoms of mobile phone radiation effects, and so far there are also no proven cases that link mobile phone radiation to illness or even death,” according to Dr Ng Kwan-Hoong.

On its website the World Health Organisation (WHO) has specifically mentioned that there are no established facts till date to prove that radiation emanating from mobile phones is harmful to health.  A negligible short-term effect, according to WHO, is the temperature rise in the brain or other organs caused from absorbing radiowaves. WHO has also stated that exposure to radiation by mobile users reduces when the distance from the device increases.



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