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By Charles Rhodes, P.Eng., Ph.D.

This web page focuses on ionizing radiation used for therapeutic purposes. On the web page titled: Radiation Safety it is pointed out that the present maximum permitted public exposure to artificial ionizing radiation is 1 mSv per year, which for X-rays and gamma rays is equivalent to an absorbed dose of 1 mGy per year.

1000 mGy = 1 Gy = 1 joule / kilogram

1 joule = 1 Watt-second

The potentially life-saving medical therapy for COVID-19 is an X-ray dose to the lungs of 500 mGy delivered as soon as possible after symptoms of lung inflammation become apparent is recommended. By comparison, a typical X-ray CAT scan of the lungs involves an absorbed dose of 20 mGy to 30 mGy. A typical chest radiograph involves an absorbed dose of about 0.14 mGy. Cancer therapy can involve doses in excess of 50 Gy.

Monitored radiation workers are regulation limited to a maximum occupational dose of 50 mSv / year (0.05 Sv / year). There is a strong argument that this occupational dose safety limit is far too low, because it can be experimentally shown that patient health generally improves in response to single equivalent doses in the range:
0.04 Sv = 40 mSv to 0.50 Sv = 500 mSv.

It is known that short term, whole-body ionizing radiation doses above 1 Gy start to degrade patient health. However, why should medical professionals worry about significantly lower therapeutic ionizing radiation doses if their patient's life is at extreme risk from another cause such as heart failure or COVID-19 induced pneumonia?

The universe contains both atomic particles and a sea of electromagnetic radiation. The particle concentrations and the energy per particle vary with position in space. Similarly, the concentration of electromagnetic photons and the energy per photon vary with position in space. In the immediate neighbourhood of stars, the concentrations of particles and electromagnetic photons and their individual energies is quite high. In the vastness of interstellar space, the concentrations of particles and electromagnetic photons are low but their energies vary over a wide range.

For electromagnetic photons, the energy per photon is proportional to the photon frequency. We call low frequency photons radio waves. Radio wave frequencies typically vary from kHz to MHz to GHz to THz. Higher frequency electromagnetic radiation we characterize by the names far infrared, infrared, visible (optical) and ultra- violet. Still higher frequency radiation we characterize by the names soft x-rays, hard x-rays, gamma rays and hard gamma rays.

Planet Earth is surrounded by a gaseous atmosphere. This atmosphere filters out most of the incoming radiation from outer space consisting of photons with higher than optical frequencies. However, there is x-ray and gamma ray radiation that comes not from outer space but from natural radioactive decay of Earth's various long-lived unstable elemental isotopes. This radiation is known as background radiation. It varies from place to place depending on the elemental mixtures of local rocks and on proximity to volcanic discharges and related wind patterns.

At optical and higher frequencies electromagnetic photons have sufficient energy that they can potentially affect human body chemistry. For example, we rely on the optical photon response of our eyes for vision. Green plants rely on similar energy photons for photosynthesis.

The atmosphere is only partially successful at filtering out solar ultraviolet (UV) photons. If we remain exposed to direct sunlight too long the UV photons will penetrate our skin and cause sunburn.

We do not live in a radiation and energetic particle free environment. We are surrounded by rocks containing small amounts of radio isotopes with half lives greater than 300 million years. We ingest food containing shall amounts of radio isotopes such as potassium-40. We breath air containing small amounts of the radio isotope C-14. We are constantly being bombarded by high energy particles from outer space known as cosmic rays. We refer to this naturally occurring nuclear radiation as "background radiation".

All existing life forms on Earth have evolved to tolerate background radiation. As long as the man-made nuclear radiation level is smaller or comparable to the background nuclear radiation level there is no significant health risk. In fact, radio biological studies have shown that small amounts of whole body nuclear radiation above the background level actually improves average human health because it stimulates the human immune system. However, we are cautious about increasing the nuclear radiation level to which human reproductive organs are exposed for fear of possibly causing birth defects due to potential damage to reproductive DNA molecules.

Human DNA molecules have elaborate mechanisms which in normal circumstances generally ensure that during reproduction and tissue growth these molecules make correct copies of themselves. However, a very large dose of nuclear radiation can overwhelm this copy protect mechanism causing sterility or birth defects known as mutations. Hence the issue of nuclear radiation safety is taken very seriously by engineers in both the scientific and medical communities.

At the beginning of the 20the century it was discovered that artificially created or concentrated x-ray and gamma ray radiation, in modest amounts, has important uses for both medical diagnostics and certain medical therapies. Today x-rays are widely used for medical diagnostics. Very much higher radiation doses are used for killing cancer cells. However, there is an in-between therapeutic range of x-ray dose that since the mid-1950s has been unreasonably ignored. The reason for not using x-ray radiation in its therapeutic range lies more in propaganda circulated by the pharmaceutical and fossil fuel industries than in fact. From the perspective of the pharmaceutical industry no one makes money from x-ray therapy whereas the pharmaceutical industry makes money every time a medical doctor prescribes an antibiotic.

From the perspective of the fossil fuel industry every nuclear power reactor represents billions of dollars in lost profits.

For the last 60 years the pharmaceutical industry and the fossil fuel industry have done all in their power to increase regulatory barriers to man made ionizing radiation and to discourage use of therapeutic x-ray radiation. During the late 1950s pharmaceutical treatments for pneumonia were adopted in place of therapeutic radiation. As a result today there is over dependence on antibiotics and many biological threats have mutated so that they are no longer effectively controlled by existing antibiotics. Today multiple drug resistant viruses and infections are a bigger threat to surgical patients than the surgery itself.

In November 2019 COVID-19 developed and by March of 2019 it had spread to almost every county on Earth, due to lack of any natural human immunity and lack of any effective pharmaceutical treatment or vaccine. As of August 1, 2020, the best mitigation treatment for severe cases of COVID-19 pneumonia is x-ray therapy. The question for the medical community in June 2020 is what is the most effective therapeutic x-ray dose and why? To properly answer that question, it is necessary to look back at previous human experience with significant radiation doses.

In the mid 1940s atomic bombs were developed in the USA. Such bombs emit enormous blasts of radiation varing from high-energy gamma rays down to low-energy infrared photons (heat). Being in the immediate proximity of a nuclear explosion results in certain death, primarily from the thermal energy (heat) and the expanding air blast.

However, at increasing distances from a nuclear explosion the flux of radiation diminishes by (1 / R^2), as well as by atmospheric and other material absorption effects until at sufficient distance the radiation flux is in the medical therapeutic range. Still further from the nuclear explosion the radiation flux diminishes until it is in the medical diagnostic range.

Finally, at very long distances from a nuclear explosion the radiation flux simply diminishes to the natural background level.

At Hiroshima and Nagasaki there were hundreds of thousands of people exposed to non-lethal radiation doses. They and their children survived and largely lived normal subsequent lives. Their risk of childbirth defects and cancers was not significantly above normal. This practical experience must be taken into account in determination of what is a safe tolerable ionizing radiation dose.

A secondary effect of a nuclear explosion is that it irradiates with neutrons a lot of solid ground and bomb casing material which forms a dust cloud. This dust flows with the prevailing wind and ultimately falls to earth as fallout. At locations where it settles to ground level this fallout will substantially raise the apparent background radiation level. The persistence of that increase in background radiation depends on the elemental mix of the fallout. On the Japanese fishing boat "The Lucky Dragon" in 1954 over 20 sailors were exposed to US hydrogen bomb fallout for an extended period. Most of them survived and lived normal subsequent lives. Again, there is the issue of what is a tolerable radiation dose and what are its long term effects?

One of the consequences of the use of atomic weapons in WWII was to create an overwhelming and unreasonable fear of radiation among members of the general public who lack an understanding of both the nature of various forms of radiation and the related bio-physics. There are significant segments of the public that fear radiation from high voltage power lines, even though the frequency of that radiation is many orders of magnitude removed from frequencies that can affect human body chemistry. Among much of the present medical community there is an unreasonable fear of increased cancer risk due to cumulative diagnostic x-rays, even though the x-ray dose required to cause a cancer is many orders of magnitude greater than the x-ray doses used in medical diagnostics.

Many thousands of people have been unreasonably damaged or have died due to unreasonable governmental policies about radiation. Following the nuclear reactor accidents at Chernobyl and Fukushima Daiichi many thousands of people were displaced from their homes over increased background radiation levels that were too small to have any measurable health effect. The fear of consequential cancer has been multiplied by Linear No Threshold (LNT) model of cancer risk assessment that has no basis in human experimental reality.

The really sad story has been COVID-19 treatment. There is a therapeutic x-ray dose of about 0.5 Gy which will save the lives of most COVID-19 patients requiring supplementary oxygen. However, as of early August 2020 broad application of this therapy, which could have saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 patients, is still not widely applied because much of the medical community fears litigation related to their dictum of "do no harm". When an ICU medical doctor is dealing with a ward full patients 80% of whom will die without the x-ray therapy it makes no sense to worry about an unsubstantiated Linear No Threshold (LNT) model estimated small fraction (less than 1%) increase in cancer risk over the patients lifetime associated with use of x-ray therapy.

Most x-ray C-T scans involve x-ray doses of only 0.02 Gy and most diagnostic x-rays are just a tiny fraction of that. The detectable harm level does not start until doses of about 1.0 Gy. While seeking to avoid a microscopic risk of additional cancer the medical community is letting literally hundreds of thousands of people die due to unreasonable fear of therapeutic x-ray treatments. Presently informed patient consent must be obtained before radiation therapy is used. COVID-19 patients who are experiencing breathing difficulties and are in urgent need of radiation therapy are seldom able to understand the technical reasons for using radiation therapy.

The real issue is proper assessment of risk versus reward.

This author was the beneficial subject of proper medical logic. In early 2002 he was informed by one of the leading cardiac surgeons in Canada that clincal experience indicated that this author would need a new heart. After some consultation what was actually done in a series of operations was to repair a defective mitral valve via open heart surgery and then to burn out defective heart nerve pathways which caused ventricular fibrillation. That later work involved several operations in which an insulated catheter was inserted into a major blood vessel in this author's groin and then pushed up into his heart. Radio frequency power was then applied to the catheter to burn out selected spots in his heart. In order for the surgeon to see in real time on a video screen where the catheter was touching this author's heart wall this author was constantly illuminated with x-ray radiation. Over several such operations the cumulative x-ray dose was large. However, the alternative of a new heart or death made the medical risk of an x-ray dose in the therapeutic range justifiable. This was a logical choice. Similar logical choices need to be made by other medical practitioners.

Life forms such as humans rely on being immersed in a certain concentration of far infrared radiation photons for temperature maintenance. If that concentration is too low, we quicky freeze. If that concentration is too high, we quicky fry. However, apart from affecting temperature the far infrared photons do not change human body tissue chemistry.

Humans rely on optical photons for vision. These photons interact with acceptors in the human eye. The human eye contains various mechanisms which respond to low levels of optical radiation but are protected against relatively high levels of optical radiation.

As the radiation frequency increases it becomes more and more human body penetrating. X-rays pass easily through soft tissue but are partially absorbed by denser bone. Gamma rays, depending upon their frequency, are more or less absorbed by human bodies. A radiation dose has units of absorbed energy per unit of body mass. 1 Gy = 1 Joule / kg

The issue of determining what is a safe radiation dose for humans has been very controversial. The use of biological models such as fruit flies has led to very misleading data and inappropriate regulation. In this author's view the most reliable data is that gleaned from actual human experience. In this respect there have been several well publicized examples. They include:
Medical therapy use of x-rays prior to 1955
The atomic bombing of Hiroshima
The atomic bombing of Nagasaki
The fallout on the Japanese fishing boat "The Lucky Dragon"
The accident at Chernobyl
The accident at Fukushima Daiichi

There have also been experiments using expendable life forms including fruit flies, mice and dogs. In this author's view there has been far too much reliance on fruit fly and mouse data for developing human radiation safety standards and far too little reliance on readily available human data. The simple reality is that a human being is about 7 orders of magnitude more massive than a fruit fly, so determining human risk based on fruit fly data is fraught with problems. When, on a dose basis, fruit fly and reliable human data disagree by three orders of magnitude, much more weight should be assigned to the human data.

Another issue is that human genetics are very stable. Human genetic data is coded in DNA. However, there are many copies of the DNA molecules and there is a sophisticated DNA error detection and correction mechanism such that the human body easily detects and rejects corrupted DNA data. Causing significant DNA changes with radiation is much more difficult in a human being than in a fruit fly. Thus, fruit fly data should be discounted when contradictory good human data is available.

There is good human data summarized by scientifically competent persons. This author recommends the following sources:

a) The book titled "Hiroshima Diary" by Michihiko Machiya M.D. who lived and worked in Hiroshima during and after the atomic bombing in 1945.

b) The book titled "The Voyage of the Lucky Dragon" by physicist Ralph Lapp focuses a Japanese fishboat that was caught in fallout from the first US hydrogen bomb test (Castle Bravo nuclear test in 1954). This book about Japanese fishermen is now more than 60 years old but is written from the perspective of a professional physicist. On finishing the book, I instantly wanted to know what happened in the intervening years to the 22 surviving fishermen and was pleasantly surprised to find out that they led happy and productive lives.

c) Neel et al 1953 Effects of atom bomb radiation on pregnancy termination

d) Neel-Schull 1956 Studies on the potential genetic effects of atomic bombs.

e) Neel 1957 Special problems inherent in the study of human genetics with particular reference to the evaluation of radiation risks

f) The Children of Atomic Bomb Survivors - A Genetic Study (1991)

g) June 1998 - International Symposium on Health Effects of Low Doses of Ionizing Radiation - Schull - The Somatic Effects of Exposure to Atomic Radiation: The Japanese Experience, 1947 - 1997; Otake and Schull - In Utero Exposure to Low Doses of Ionizing Radiation and its Effect on the Developing Nervous System

h) Schull 2003 Children of atomic bomb survivors synopsis

i) Kees Graamans, Nasopharyngeal radium irradiation, the lessons of history.

Since the late 1950s the operating assumption for the medical and radiation safety community has been that the only acceptable level of radiation exposure to the public is a level that is small compared to the background radiation. However, there is now a major body of evidence which indicates that occasional therapeutic levels of ionizing radiation exposure are beneficial because they stimulate the immune system to make DNA repairs that otherwise would not spontaneously occur. This issue may be important in cancer prevention and in treatment of Alzheimer disease and Parkinson disease. X-ray stimulation of the body's defense mechanisms is certainly important in treatment of severe cases of COVID-19.

Presently available experimental evidence suggests that the maximum "safe whole-body ionizing photon radiation dose" is somewhere in the region of 500 mSv per year at about 40 mSv / month.

However, caution should be used because certain combinations of critical life saving medical procedures can expose a patient to that much x-ray and gamma radiation in a single year. In order to safely implement these medical procedures, the patient should not have had other major radiation exposure within the year prior to the procedure. Medical doctors need to be able to assume that their patients' exposure to non-medical radiation is small compared to 500 mSv per year. In that sense the nuclear worker limit of 50 mSv per year is well chosen. However, that choice has significant cost consequences for the nuclear power industry. The choice of a limit of 1 mSv per year for the general public has severe cost consequences because it errs so far on the side of safety that it makes no sense. There are many places where the natural background radiation causes a dose of much more than 1 mSv / year.

A significant problem in the medical profession is poor or non-existent inter-institutional communication. For example, cardiac doctors at hospital "A" may be unaware of X-ray or gamma ray exposure that a patient has received as a result of unrelated diagnostic or therapeutic procedures at hospital "B" or as a result of working in nuclear facility "C".

Hence before radiation therapy can be safely used on a large scale there should be reliable integration of health records at all hospitals, radiation diagnostic/treatment facilities and work places. Some cardiac diagnostic and therapeutic procedures involve substantial radiation doses.

Recently Dr. Jerry M. Cuttler and his associates have found that limited doses of ionizing radiation (40 mGy of x-ray) at approximately monthly intervals are beneficial because they stimulate a patient's immune system in a manner that substantially reduces the incidence of cancer and relieves the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. It has also been shown that radiation treatments extend the average lifetime of dogs. Details of this work are available from the following documents and published papers:

1989 Article by Nobel Prize winner Dr. Rosalyn Yalow (nee Sussman)

Cuttler-2014_DR_Remedy Rad Fear--Discard politicized science


Cuttler-Feinendegen-2015 Feb5_Inhaled PuO2 in dogs-lung cancer Dose Response

Cuttler-2016Apr_Dose-Resp_AD treatment

Cuttler-et al-2017_Update AD patient treated CT scans

Cuttler-2017_PEO-York Chapter_Treat AD with CT-R

Cuttler-et al-2017_Evidence LD rates increase dog lifespans

Cuttler-2017_PEO-York Chapter_Low dose rates increase lifespan

3.5 hour lecture by Jim Welsh and Bill Sacks on Cancer and the Immune System

Alzheimers Disease

Safe Radon Level

Henriksen-2016_Radon, lung cancer and LNT model

Radon, lung cancer and the LNT model

Treatment of Cancer and Inflammation With Low Dose Ionizing Radiation

Treating AD with CT Scans

Calabrese-2020 Muller-Neel dispute and fate of cancer risk assessment

Evidence That Lifelong Low Dose Rates of Ionizing Radiation Increase Lifespan in Long- and Short-Lived Dogs
Evidence of a Dose-Rate Threshold for Life Span Reduction of Dogs Exposed to Gamma Radiation


Recently therapeutic x-ray radiation has been successfully used to rapidly mitigate COVID-19 in several pilot trials.

Before the 1960s, X-ray therapies were widely used against many diseases, including different types of infections. When the proper technique (dose, zone and exposure time) was used, the successful cure rate for inflammatory diseases was quite high, ranging from about 75% to 90%. The benefits usually appeared within a day or two. There were few, if any, harmful side effects. This type of treatment induced anti-inflammatory agents in the body, and it stimulated the patient's own natural protection systems. There were no reports of increased cancer incidence or any other long-term effects. The development of antibiotics and other pharmaceutical remedies resulted in the replacement of X-ray therapies by the new drugs that were more convenient to administer.

Today there is a political barrier to using a low dose of X-rays to reduce lung inflammation, and society is paying an enormous price in patient lives for this political problem. Page 5 of Application of Low Doses of Ionizing Radiation in Medical Therapies is as follows:

Present-Day Physicians Avoid Treatments With Low Doses of Radiation
Treatments with LDIR (Low Dose Ionizing Radiation) became very controversial after the 1956 NAS (National Academy of Sciences) recommendation was issued. Physicians began prescribing antibiotics and chemical treatments instead of treatments with low doses of radiation. For many decades, radiologists have been taught the LNT (Linear No Threshold) ideology that any exposure to IR (Ionizing Radiation) carries a risk of cancer. They are constantly urged to avoid any use of such radiations and to minimize the dose of diagnostic X-rays and computed tomography (CT) scans. The potential benefit of any procedure that uses IR is to be weighed against the risk of cancer, as calculated by the LNT model. It appears to be unacceptable for physicians to learn about or use LDIR therapy. Medical textbooks fail to mention an important characteristic of the normal aerobic metabolism, namely that the mitochondria leak ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species), which cause endogenous damage to DNA and other biomolecules at a very high rate. Pollycove and Feinendegen have pointed out that very powerful adaptive protection systems have evolved, which act against this high rate of DNA and other biomolecular damage. Physicians are not taught the experience of the past 120 years that low doses of radiation stimulate the protection systems, including the immune system, which involve more than 150 genes. They do not learn about the biphasic dose–response model (Figure 2) and are unaware of dose thresholds for the onset of radiogenic cancer. Without an informed medical community, it is impossible for researchers to initiate clinical studies of LDIR therapies that would stimulate a patient’s protection systems. When conventional treatments fail to remedy a patient’s life-threatening disease and an LDIR therapy is provided as a last resort, a case report may be issued that describes the significant benefits observed.

Dr. Jerry Cuttler is a highly respected 78-year-old scientist. As a young man he developed the radiation flux measurement equipment still used to control the power in CANDU reactors. He had a long career with Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL) deploying CANDU reactor technology. He is a past president of the Canadian Nuclear Association. In 2019 his advice was sought by Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) with respect to the continuing public safety of the Pickering Nuclear Generation Station.

Since his retirement from AECL Jerry Cuttler has focused on the medical therapeutic uses of ionizing radiation. Please do not bother him unnecessarily unless his technical expertise is required. However, he is interested in receiving patient and treatment information and results.

Since 1995, Dr. Jerry Cuttler (jerrycuttler@rogers.com) has been collaborating with renowned medical scientists and radiobiologists to understand the health effects of radiation. He recently participated in a small clinical trial in Toronto on an X-ray therapy for Alzheimer's disease. When the COVID-19 epidemic appeared in the U.S. and Canada, he proposed to the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and to Sunnybrook Hospital that patients with severe chest inflammation be given X-ray therapy, as was successfully employed to treat patients with pneumonia inflammation in the first half of the 20th century.

On March 20, 2020 Dr. Jerry Cuttler recommended an x-ray dose to the lungs of 0.5 Gy (i.e., 50 cGy) as a treatment for lung inflammation arising from COVID-19. Pilot trials have confirmed obvious benefits of this treatment within two hours to two days.

Jerry Cuttler was asked:"In terms of suppression of COVID-19 lung inflammation is there any practical difference between a 0.5 Gy chest x-ray dose and a whole body 0.5 Gy x-ray dose?"

Jerry Cuttler's response was as follows:"Yes there is a very important difference. The blood-forming stem cells in bone marrow are more radiation-sensitive than any of the other cells. Dr. Sakamoto observed (not very severe) lymphocytopenia (a lowering of the lymphocyte count in the bloodstream) in some of his (cancer) patients when he gave multiple, whole-body doses of 0.1 or 0.15 Gy to a total of 1.5 Gy, over a 5 week period."

"Lymphocytes are part of the immune system, which the patient badly needs to recover from the COVID-19 infection. So the 0.5 Gy exposure should be limited to lung area, to remedy the lung inflammation without severely damaging the patient’s immune system."

"I think an X-ray machine that can deliver 100 kV X-rays with a beam current of about 100 mA can deliver a lung dose of 50 rad or 0.5 Gy within one minute, with the patient about 1 metre from the X-ray tube." The patient dose has to be measured by a competent RT (Radiation Therapy) physicist.

Jerry Cuttler says:
Rather than pump oxygen into the lungs, the doctors need to remediate the COVID-19 inflammation. The inflammation creates a thick barrier between the air/oxygen molecules and the blood vessels that need to absorb the O2.

The 0.5 Gy X-ray dose induces an "anti-inflammatory phenotype" that quickly resolves the inflammation. (The radiation works on the immune system that caused the inflammation.)

Dr. Jerry Cuttler says that the effect of the radiation therapy is to quickly reduce lung inflammation so that the patient does not suffocate before his/her immune response can suppress the COVID-19. The Wiki explanation for the cellular response is as follows:

"One of these functions is immune-mediated cell death, and it is carried out by T cells in several ways: CD8+ T cells, also known as "killer cells", are cytotoxic - this means that they are able to directly kill virus-infected cells as well as cancer cells. CD8+ T cells are also able to utilize small signaling proteins, known as cytokines, to recruit other cells when mounting an immune response. A different population of T cells, the CD4+ T cells, function as "helper cells". Unlike CD8+ killer T cells, these CD4+ helper T cells function by indirectly killing cells identified as foreign: they determine if and how other parts of the immune system respond to a specific, perceived threat."

It takes time, 1 to 2 weeks, for T cells to learn to recognize virus-infected cells and then build an army to go after them.

MAY 10, 2020 Email:
On May 10, 2020 Dr. Jerry Cutler sent the following explanatory email to a group of associates:
Cancer cells are different than normal cells. Cancer cells are mutated; they do not have the all the protection systems of normal cells. So when a mutated or cancer cell is sprayed with liquid nitrogen (LN) or zapped with sufficient ionizing radiation, that cell dies. However, a healthy cell can repair the damage and recover from the LN or the radiation exposure.

The usual radiation treatment for a cancer tumor is 2 Gy per weekday for about 6 weeks. The total dose is:
2 Gy x 5 x 6 = 60 Gy.
After each 2 Gy dose fraction, the health cells recover, but the cancer cells deteriorate. After 30 exposures the cancer cells are usually dead and have been removed.

When we talk about COVID-19 disease, we talk about virus-infected human cells. Virus-infected cells are destroyed by our adaptive immune system. This system requires at least one week to produce specific antibodies that will selectively identify all the SARS-CoV-2 virus-infected cells for destruction by the customized killer T cells.

Those COVID-19 patients, who have a strong innate immune system reaction to the infection, develop severe lung inflammation. Their lungs fill up with fluids and debris, which blocks the transfer of oxygen to their blood. A supply of O2 and a ventilator in the ICU are usually not enough to remedy the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and most of these patients die from suffocation.

From the 1930s to the 1940s, many patients with severe pneumonia were given a low dose of radiation (LDR) of 0.5 Gy to the lungs. This exposure produced an anti-inflammatory phenotype that decreased the lung inflammation and allowed the patient to breathe. Patients with viral pneumonia recovered after one or two weeks. Their adaptive immune system destroyed all of the virus-infected cells. Clinical trials will confirm the efficacy of this LDR lung treatment for mitigating the SARS-CoV-2 virus-induced lung inflammation.

Note that the 0.5 Gy dose to the lungs is 1% of the total dose employed to remedy lung cancer. The acute lethal dose for virus particles was determined in the 1950s. It ranges from about 100 Gy to about 10,000 Gy.

Pilot Low Dose Radiation Therapy Trial at Emory Winship Cancer Institute

Date: Mon, Jun 8, 11:52 PM
Emory-Winship pilot trial data now a preprint to access here:
Emory-Winship COVID-19 low dose radiation therapy pilot trial result

Date: July 9, 2020 Ameri et al in Iran

In two independent pilot trials, each of five oxygen-dependent patients with COVID-19 pneumonia, low-dose whole-lung radiation led to rapid improvement in clinical status, encephalopathy, and radiographic infiltrates without acute toxicity. Low-dose whole-lung radiation is safe, shows early promise of efficacy, and warrants further study in larger prospective trials.

Calabrese EJ, Dhawan G. How radiotherapy was historically used to treat pneumonia: could it be useful today?
Yale J Biol Med. 2013;86:555-570
Cuttler JM. Application of low doses of ionizing radiation in medical therapies
Dose Response. 2020;18(1):1-17
Email from U.K. Dr. Chris Hamilton indicating his personal and mentor's experience with X-ray Therapy for pneumonia suppression
Roentgen Therapy of Virus Pneumonia Oppenheimer - American journal of roentgenology and radium therapy pages 635-638, 1943
Letter to Dr. Stephen Hahn of US FDA re: US Clinical Trial of Radiation Therapy
LDR therapy as a potential life saving treatment for COVID-19
A new 4-page justification for a trial of the 0.5Gy LDR treatment for COVID-19, by Rödel et al The mechanism is quite complicated. However, we know that this treatment might work from past experience.
US PreVent Trial of Radiation Therapy for Treating COVID-19
Investigating Low Dose Thoracic Radiation for COVID-19. Parties that copy this file by any means owe $15.00 per copy to the Radiation Research Society.
Time has come to utilize low-dose radiation in fight against COVID-19.
Low Dose Radiation to COVID-19 Patients to Ease the Disease Course and Reduce the Need for Intensive Care
Autopsy study shows that COVID-19 deaths are primarily a consequence of immune-mediated, rather than pathogen-mediated, organ inflammation and injury. The adverse immune response can be greatly reduced by appropriate use of Low Dose Radiation therapy.
How Tortise Rides Led to Hope for COVID-19 and Alzheimers Patients

Spanish radiation oncologists endorse Low Dose Radiation therapy for COVID-19 inflammation in English
Spanish radiation oncologists endorse Low Dose Radiation therapy for COVID-19 inflammation
Low dose chest radiation for COVID-19 patients
Pilot Trial in India of Low Dose Radiation therapy for treating COVID-19
Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Iran

US government clinical trials
Two clinical trials use low dose radiation to treat COVID-19 infections
A non-specialist summary of current COVID-19 Low Dose Radiation Treatment Clinical Trials
Low Dose Treatment Trials

This web page last updated August 1, 2020

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