Answer to Question #1934 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"
Category: Radiation Effects — Genetic Effects
The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:
Can you make a person sterile by submitting him under gamma rays without damaging any other organism?
It is assumed that you meant "other organs" rather than "other organism." This response is based on that assumption. It has been estimated that permanent sterility in human females requires doses in excess of 2 Gy to the ovary, and in males, more than 5 Gy to the testis. Such doses, if confined to the reproductive organs, could have other harmful effects, the most serious of which is radiation-induced cancer in the exposed individual. If total permanent sterility is not achieved, then any future offspring of the irradiated subject could carry new and excess hereditary disease which could be passed on to subsequent generations. If the dose is not rigorously confined to the reproductive organs, other effects could occur, including (but not limited to) dermatitis, hair loss, radiation sickness (nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea), and perhaps even death. In children there could be interference with growth and development. Conclusion: Radiation is not a safe and effective method for sterilizing an individual or a population. S. Julian Gibbs, DDS, PhD
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