Extensive literature indicates that minute doses of ionizing radiation benefit animal growth and development, fecundity, health and longevity. Specific improvements appear in neurologic function, growth rate and survival of young, wound healing, immune competence, and resistance to infection, radiation morbidity, and tumor induction and growth. Decreased mortality from these debilitating factors results in increased average life span following exposure to minute doses of ionizing radiation. The above phenomena suggest the possibility that ionizing radiation may be essential for life. Limited data with protozoa suggest that reproduction rates decrease when they are maintained in subambient radiation environments. This may be interpreted to be a radiation deficiency. Evidence must now be obtained to determine whether or not ionizing radiation is essential for growth, development, nutrient utilization, fecundity, health and longevity of higher animals. Whether or not ionizing radiation is found to be essential for these physiologic functions, the evidence reviewed indicates that the optimal amount of this ubiquitous agent is imperceptibly above ambient levels.
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