Health Protection Research Unit for Chemical & Radiation Threats & Hazards

Medical Radiation Exposure

Health Effects of Medical Radiation Exposure


This research theme looks at the health risks of medical radiation exposure. We aim to provide accurate markers of exposure to radiation and advice for safely using medical diagnostic procedures.

As part of everyday life we are exposed to radiation, either from sunlight or other forms of solar radiation or from natural sources in the atmosphere and environment.

Other forms of radiation we come across are often from medical sources, such as the use of X-rays for diagnosis. These procedures are not considered harmful.
However, increasing use of certain imaging technologies, including CT and fluoroscopy, have raised concerns that the long term adverse effects of such radiation exposures are not routinely studied. They may have clear effects in some patient groups (Pearce et al, 2012; Smith-Bindmann et al 2009).

Patient studies help us determine how quantifiable radiation exposures can affect population health outcomes. They also help us decide how we can modify things to improve population health.

Aims of the research theme

We aim to determine the risks for the exposed population in the context of other health risks.

We also want to determine variability in clinical response in relation to biomarkers and measures of exposure in patients undergoing radiotherapeutic procedures.

We’ll use in vitro approaches to identify variability in cellular responses and novel biomarkers of exposure.

A major outcome of this research will be to provide the evidence base and advice to safely use medical diagnostic procedures for specific patient groups. Another outcome will be to provide accurate markers of exposure to radiation.

Theme leader: Professor Mark Pearce & Dr Elizabeth Ainsbury

Graphic showing skeletal system


Recent projects in the Health Effects of Medical Radiation Exposure theme.