Radiation can disrupt both healthy and cancerous cell growth. The reason you wear a lead vest and the dental hygienist steps out of the room when she gives your teeth an x-ray is because too much radiation on your body can have negative effects. Too much ultraviolet radiation from the sun, for instance, can cause skin cancer. But used carefully, in a directed and modulated format, radiation can be used for good. Positive effects of radiation include fighting cancer, diagnostics and the possibility for extending life.
Stop Cancer Cell Growth With Less Treatments
Radiation treatments following breast cancer surgery such as a lumpectomy can help stop further cancer cell growth, according to the American Cancer Society. Their website reports that routine post-operative radiation treatments that used to last six weeks have been cut back to three weeks with as good effect, according to a study in the August 2002 Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Focused Radiation to Stop Spreading Cancer
Specific types of radiation treatments such as external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) can focus specifically on tumors in the prostate gland so it doesn't spread. And intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) can use higher doses of radiation against cancerous cells without hurting healthy organs, according to Mayo Clinic staff.
If removing the cancer isn't possible, Mayo Clinic staff say radiation therapy can help shrink cancerous tumors. The radiation treatments reduce negative symptoms from cancer to improve the patient's quality of life.
Low Dose Radiation for Immunity and Lowered Stress Effects
A study conducted by the University of Toronto at Scarborough in January 2005 resulted in stress reduction and improvement in immunity to illness as positive effects of radiation. Low doses of gamma rays directed at meadow voles (a type of rodent) showed improved health in the mammals in a process called hormesis, wherein low doses of what is normally harmful (radiation in this case) becomes beneficial.
The Windows to the Universe website states that one of the good aspects of radiation is in diagnostics. Radiation helps doctors image body interiors to locate areas of difficulty. The Merck Manual website lists some of the radiation imaging types as ultrasonography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), doppler, computed tomography (CT or CAT scans), radionuclide scanning, and positron emission tomography (PET) as some of the many diagnostic used tools in the location and treatment of a wide variety of illnesses.