Ionizing radiation is a universal carcinogen due to its ability to induce cancer in most organs following exposure at any age, including in utero. Several organs are especially radiosensitive, particularly when exposure occurs in childhood. These include the female breast, thyroid, brain, and red bone marrow. Very few cancers, notably cervical and Hodgkin lymphoma, do not seem to be related to ionizing radiation, for unknown reasons. For most cancers (lung may be the exception) the relative risk decreases with attained age and time since exposure. Currently the main sources of radiation exposure to the general population involve very low-dose (<50 mGy) natural background exposure (including residential radon) and medical exposures, such as computed tomography (CT) scans. Natural background exposure varies by location but is generally stable over time. Medical exposure has been increasing in many countries due to the expanded use of advanced imaging technologies.
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