The Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR VII) Report's Models for Estimating Cancer Risks

E.S. Gilbert, Morgan Lecture (National Cancer Institute)

The BEIR VII committee reviewed epidemiological studies of persons exposed for medical, occupational, and environmental reasons, including those of the atomic-bomb survivor cohort in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. Highlights of this review, which focused on evidence that has emerged since the 1990 BEIR V report, are presented. A major task of the committee was to develop an approach for estimating cancer risks from exposure to low levels of low-LET radiation. The adopted approach is described, including discussion of the data that were used, the cancer endpoints, the nature of the statistical models, and the assumptions that were required. Examples of risk estimates are presented and compared with those from the BEIR V report and other previous risk assessments. Major sources of uncertainty in the resulting risk estimates are also discussed.

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