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ISGlobal Radiation Programme

Radiation is the process by which energy—in the form of waves or particles—moves through media which are not required for its propagation. Radiation is classified as either ionising or non-ionising depending on whether or not it has sufficient energy to cause atomic changes in the matter through which it passes. Both kinds of radiation are found in the environment and exposures to them may occur as a result of both natural and anthropogenic processes. Increases in the application of non-ionising radiation as a means of transmitting data—for example, in mobile communications—have raised concerns about potential risks to health. Similarly, new ionising radiation imaging and treatment modalities are increasingly used in both diagnostic and therapeutic procedures in many areas of medicine, and understanding potential risks to health of both patients and medical staff are paramount in maximising the efficacy of treatments while ensuring their safety. Understanding potential risks associated with occupational and accidental exposures to ionising radiation in relation to the nuclear industry is also key to radiation protection and public health.

Exposure to non-ionising radiation from a variety of sources has been potentially associated with a number of health outcomes including some cancers, but mechanisms explaining such associations are largely missing. Epidemiological research continues to contribute to exploring how non-ionising radiation might affect human systems. Exposure to ionising radiation has been conclusively linked to the risk of cancer and other health outcomes in a variety of studies. However, the nature of such risks at low doses is much less well understood.

The overall objective of the Radiation Programme is to better understand the potential risks associated exposure to radiation. Ultimately this aim serves the radiation protection of the general public, patients and those exposed in their work, and informing policy to achieve this goal. In addition, our research contributes to better understanding the processes by which radiation affects human physiology and human health.

The group is led by Professor Elisabeth Cardis. Researches working in the group include Isabelle Thierry-Chef (MediRad), Gemma Castaño (Mobi-Kids, GERoNiMO), Magda Bosch de Basea (EPI-CT),  Elisa Pasqual (ProCardio, Spain-CCSS, OPERRA), Michelle Turner (INTEROCC, GERoNiMO, EPILYMPH), Javier Vila (INTEROCC, GERoNiMO), Liudmila Liutsko (Shamisen, Shamisen SINGS) and Maëlle Canet (MediRad). 



International Society of Radiation Epidemiology & Dosimetry
1st meeting – 5-8 May 2020, SITGES, SPAIN
More info soon...

Latest News from ISGlobal Radiation Programme

Do communication technologies and environmental exposures affect the risk of brain tumors in young people?

The overall objective of the MOBI-KIDS project is to assess the potential link between the risk of brain tumors and environmental risk factors, including use of communication devices.


After leukaemia, brain tumours are the second most common cancer type in young people under 25 years of age. Little is known about what increases the risk of brain tumours. Risk factors include exposure to ionizing radiation, family history of brain tumours, and some rare medical conditions. Exposure to chemicals and to electromagnetic fields may also be associated with the risk of brain tumours, although this is still uncertain. Recent years have seen a dramatic increase in the use of communication technologies, particularly among young people, and there is growing concern about their potential health effects.

An important limitation of the studies of brain tumours in young people to date has been the limited number of children and adolescents included. Although the frequency of brain tumours has tended to increase in young people over recent decades, it is fortunately still a rare disease. Therefore, international studies are needed to better understand the effects of environmental factors on the risk of this disease.

What is being done

Over a period of six years, nearly 1.000 young people aged 10 to 24 years with brain tumours and over 2.000 healthy persons were invited to participate in the study.
Participants were asked for information (by questionnaire) about personal risk factors (such as age and gender), residential history, history of environmental exposures, use of communication technologies and personal and family health information.
Validation studies have been conducted to evaluate the adequacy of questionnaire responses and to adress the possibility of a number of potential bias, characteristics of case-control studies, including recall bias and error, participation bias, survival bias.

Current status

MOBI-KIDS was conducted in 14 countries. Case ascertainment was completed at the end of 2016. A number of methodological papers have been published (see Publications) and are in process. Results of the analysis of risk of brain tumours in relation to mobile communication devices and resulting exposure to ELF and RF will be submitted for publication in 2020.

A number of other analyses are underway or starting, including risk of brain tumours in relation to medical radiation exposure, exposures in utero, personal and family medical history, air pollution and occupational exposures and clinical epidemiology of brain tumours in young people.

Financial support

Financial support for the study was provided by the European Union (grant agreements 226873 and 603794) as well as by local and national funding sources in the participating countries.

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