In English | En español
Questions About Cancer? 1-800-4-CANCER

Understanding Cancer Series

< Back to Main
  • Posted: 04/07/2006
  • Reviewed: 11/04/2010

Page Options

  • Print This Page
  • Print This Document
  • View Entire Document
  • Email This Document
  • View/Print PDF
  • View/Print PowerPoint

Slide 23


Ionizing Radiation

< Previous SectionNext Section >

Invisible high-energy rays called ionizing radiation can damage the body's DNA and genes, possibly enabling cancer-related mutations. There are several sources of ionizing radiation, including cosmic rays, radon, fallout from atomic bombs or above-ground nuclear testing, and screening or diagnostic X-rays.

We are all exposed to the ionizing radiation from the cosmic rays that enter earth's atmosphere from outer space. This radiation may account for a very small percentage (about 1 percent) of our total cancer risk.

Ionizing Radiation