This paper reviews the contemporary evidence that radiation can accelerate aging, degenerative health effects and mortality. Around the 1960s, the idea that ionizing radiation caused premature aging was dismissed as the radiation-induced health effects appeared to be virtually confined to neoplasms. More recently, radiation has become associated with a much wider spectrum of age-related diseases, including cardiovascular disease; although some diseases of old age, such as diabetes, are notably absent as a radiation risk. On the basis of recent research, is there a stronger case today to be made linking radiation and aging? Comparison is made between the now-known biological mechanisms of aging and those of radiation, including oxidative stress, chromosomal damage, apoptosis, stem cell exhaustion and inflammation. The association between radiation effects and the free-radical theory of aging as the causative hypothesis seems to be more compelling than that between radiation and the nutrient-sensing TOR pathway. Premature aging has been assessed by biomarkers in calorie restriction studies; yet, biomarkers such as telomere erosion and p16(INK4a) are ambiguous for radiation-induced aging. Some animal studies suggest low dose radiation may even demonstrate hormesis health benefits. Regardless, there is virtually no support for a life span extending hypothesis for A-bomb survivors and other exposed subjects.
Richardson, R. B. (2009, November). Ionizing radiation and aging: rejuvenating an old idea. Aging. https://doi.org/10.18632/aging.100081