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Does Excessive Exposure to Radiation Cause Breast Cancer?

 In a study conducted by the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, the findings found evidence of many women being prone to breast cancer due to radiation exposure. 

Getting prone to cancer is dangerous and will put life at stake. However, there are many treatments, like therapies, available to kill and stop the spread of cancer cells in the body. The majority of women are prone to irrespective of their age and go through radiation therapy. This therapy has a lot of side effects that eventually contribute to cancer recurrence. 

People who undergo extensive radiation during childhood or later in cancer treatment are more likely to develop breast cancer as they grow up.

What is Radiation?

Radiation is to transfer energy through either a space or medium. The transmission will happen in the waveform or particles. Sometimes, nature produces this radiation, and at other times, people create it artificially. 

The following are two different types of radiation that have an impact on atoms and molecules:

  1. Non-ionizing Radiation 

Humans are regularly exposed to this type of radiation. However, it won't negatively impact the atoms and molecules in the body.

Different types of radiation that fall into non-ionizing radiation include microwaves, AM and FM signals, cellular signals, television signals, infrared signals, and GPS signals. 

  1. Ionizing Signals

This type of ionization will have a significant impact on the atoms and molecules present in the body. It removes electrons from atoms and charges them positively. When ionization happens, then it has a huge impact on the body’s cells. 

Different types of ionization radiation that can result in breast cancer in people include:

  • Alpha radiation 

This has two protons and two neutrons reflected on the outer skin but causes no damage. 

  • Beta radiation 

It has electrons that move briskly, reflect on the outer skin, and can treat tumors.

  • Gamma radiation

These protons can contain no mass or electric charge. The radiation will reflect on the skin and cause damage to the cells. 

  • X-rays

These have electromagnetic radiation that is man-made. These are like gamma rays that will penetrate the body.

  • Neutron radiation 

These are free neutrons that are produced excessively due to nuclear fusion. 

Natural Ways of Getting Exposed to Radiation 

The following are two natural ways how you are exposed to radiation and attacked by breast cancer:

  1. Cosmic Radiation 

Sun rays or other solar elements will strike the Earth. People living in higher altitudes receive exposure to this type of radiation.

  1. Terrestrial Radiation 

When different minerals like potassium and thorium are decayed, it releases some radiation. You can find these minerals in construction materials and people working at the construction site or living in the areas where these minerals have this Radiation exposure. 

Artificial radiation 

Apart from natural radiation, you are also exposed to artificial radiation due to which the chances of getting attacked by breast cancer increases. The following are a few artificial radiations you might experience unknowingly: 

Medical Radiation 

Radiation is widely used to cure many diseases in the medical world. The X-ray and CT scan devices will use ionizing radiation to take the scan of the body. Around 98% of artificial radiation is generated by the medical industry. 

As per the World Health Organization (WHO) reports, around 3600 million radiology treatments are happening globally, and these treatments use some or other kinds of radiation. 

Nuclear Plants

The nuclear plants will make use of nuclear reactions to generate electricity. There is a lot of ionizing radiation generated from this plant. 

Exposure to Radiation Causes Breast Cancer

If you are exposed to radiation in the following ways, then it results in breast cancer:

  • Changes in DNA can result in the abnormal growth of cells, and these cells will multiply excessively. 
  • Genome instability, like gene changes, would lead to the development of cells and multiplication.
  • Impact the functioning of the breast cells.

Many researchers have performed research on Japanese women who survived the atomic bomb to learn about the aftermath of their bodies due to excess radiation. It is found that 807 first-time breast cancer cases have been registered, and 20 recurrence of breast cancer cases have been registered. 

People who have been exposed to higher doses of this radiation have been prone to breast cancer. Women who were under 20 years were prone to this cancer over older women above 40 years. 

Undergoing Mammography Increase Breast Cancer Risk

Mammography is a medical procedure where an X-ray is used to check if the person is prone to breast cancer or not. There will be two X-ray films in this Radiation exposure equipment to take the X-ray from different angles. 

The person who is going through this scan will be prone to radiation of around 0.42 millisieverts. 

According to the reports given by the National Breast Cancer Foundation, every woman who is above 40 should undergo mammographic screening every year to check if the family has a history of this cancer or if the woman has dense breasts to see if the lumps are grown.


After learning about radiation exposure, it is a must for you to stay away from some of these radiations as much as possible in your daily life to avoid getting prone to breast cancer. Younger women must reduce exposure to radiation since they have higher chances of being attacked by this cancer. 

It is advisable to avoid unnecessary mammography and to use shields when working in areas with radiation.

Dr. Rajeev Agarwal
Cancer Care
Meet The Doctor
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