When just one of these nuclear particles or rays goes crashing through some material, it collides violently with atoms or molecules along the way. . . . In the delicately balanced economy of the cell, this sudden disruption can be disastrous. The individual cell may die; it may recover. However, if it does recover, after the passage of weeks, months or years, it may begin to proliferate wildly in the uncontrolled growth.
Radiation consists of several types of subatomic particles, principally those called gamma rays, neutrons, electrons, and alpha particles, that shoot through space at very high speeds, something like 100,000 miles per second. They can easily penetrate deep inside the human body, damaging some of the biological cells of which the body is composed. This damage can cause a fatal cancer to develop, or if it occurs in reproductive cells, it can cause genetic defects in later generations of offspring.
Radiation takes place when the atomic nucleus of an unstable atom decays and starts releasing ionizing particles, known as ionizing radiation. When these particles come into contact with organic material, such as human tissue, they will damage them if levels are high enough, causing burns and cancer.
The American Cancer Society concedes, “Radiation can damage normal cells, and sometimes this damage can have long-term effects. For instance, radiation to the chest area may damage the lungs or heart. In some people, this might affect a person’s ability to do things. Radiation to the abdomen (belly) or pelvis can lead to bladder, bowel, fertility, or sexual problems in some people. Radiation in certain areas can also lead to fluid build-up and swelling in parts of the body, a problem called lymphedema. A long-term problem linked to radiation treatment is the possible increased risk of getting a second cancer many years later. This is caused by the radiation damage to healthy tissues. The risk of this happening is real.”