Dr. Tsubokura's Radiation Lecture Vol.108

Author: Masaharu Tsubokura PhD.

Editors: Akihiko Ozaki M.D.,PhD., Yuki Senoo

115. leukemia: a disease causing n inability to produce normal blood-forming cells.

 Soft and spongy tissue called bone marrow exists within human bones, functioning as a factory that produces blood-forming cells. Every day, the factory produces important blood-forming cells such as erythrocytes (necessary to carry oxygen), leukocytes (which fight off bacterial infections and other foreign enemies), and thrombocytes (which stop bleeding). For example, erythrocytes live for approximately four months and are constantly replaced with new ones.

Leukemia is the condition in which a factory cannot produce normal blood-forming cells. Therefore, leukemia is considered a type of blood cancer. If your body lacks enough normal erythrocytes, you can experience symptoms associated with anemia, such as fatigue. Furthermore, if leukocytes do not function properly, the risk of getting various infectious diseases increases. Other symptoms, such as difficulty in stopping blood flow, can also appear due to a low thrombocyte count.

In recent years, many risk factors (such as exposure to extremely high levels of radiation and certain viral infections) have been found to increase the risk of getting leukemia. As with many types of cancer, however, we can rarely determine the exact cause of leukemia in people diagnosed with the disease. On the other hand, chemotherapeutic medications, bone marrow transplants, and various other treatments now exist to help more people fight leukemia.

116. A thrombocyte’s role is to arrest bleeding.

Soft and spongy tissue called bone marrow exists within human bones, functioning as a factory that produces blood-forming cells. Leukemia is the condition in which the factory cannot produce normal blood-forming cells, such as erythrocytes, leukocytes, and thrombocytes. Therefore, leukemia is considered a type of blood cancer. In leukemia, the overgrowth of malignant cells in the bone marrow destroys the bone marrow’s ability to produce normal blood-forming cells.

 Exposure to high-dose radiation can damage the “factories (bone marrows)” and suppress their function of producing blood-forming cells. For example, damage caused by radiation exposure leads to symptoms like bleeding noses and easy bruising due to a lack of normal thrombocytes, whose function is to stop bleeding. However, this only happens after exposure to extremely high-dose radiation.

 In our everyday lives, we are all exposed to radiation via naturally occurring radioactive substances, but radiation exposure equal to 100 years’ worth of background radiation (naturally occurring radiation) over a short period, may lead to such symptoms. However, you will certainly not get a bloody nose after one CT scan. Unless the “factories” responsible for producing blood-forming cells are completely damaged by high-dose radiation exposure, they will recover in a few days or weeks.

The dose of radiation exposure that leads to bleeding disorders is a different order of magnitude from the air dose detected after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident. Today, there is no risk of getting a bloody nose due to radiation exposure in everyday life.

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The Japanese version of the manuscript was originally published in Fukushima Minyu, a local newspaper in Fukushima prefecture, Japan, 24th February and 3rd Marc 2019 was reproduced for MRIC Global under the author's permission.

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