Radiation in any dose can affect lymphocyte growth and development in individuals.
If you imagine your body is the battleground of WWI, and the opposing forces are the virus and your immune system respectively, lymphocytes are like
When a virus infects your body, it forcibly enters your cells and hijacks the protein synthesis mechanisms to produce more of itself, your first
response is to have lymphocytes carpet bomb the entire infection zone with an enzyme which kills cells indiscriminately. This does eradicate viruses,
but for every infected cell destroyed, thousands of healthy cells are destroyed too.
This is responsible for the "sore throat" experience from a common cold.
This carpet bombing means there are pieces of cell debris and virus debris lining your throat, which will choke you if you do not remove it - hence
excess mucus production or "runny nose."
The virus debris is picked up by macrophages in your body which carry pieces of the virus around your body to the thyroid, where billions and billions
of cells exist which can completely eradicate any viral infection quickly and efficiently - the problem is, for each specific virus, only 1 T cell and
1 B cell exist in your body. The macrophages which pick up the invading virus need to come in to contact with those specific cells to trigger a
Once they meet, the T and B cells divide rapidly, the T cells act like Navy SEALs and go to the infected site, killing infected cells individually.
Concurrently, the B cells release anti-bodies (air support) which attack the viruses which are outside cells and make it impossible for them to enter
cells by surrounding their specific receptors.
This quickly eliminates the virus, and the T and B cells wither and die, except a small proportion of memory cells in your body which remain active
throughout your life, making you immune to the same virus for as long as you live.
Obviously, the fewer lymphocytes, the fewer pieces of virus debris, the fewer macrophages circulating your body looking for the specific T and B cells
to activate, the longer it takes for the infection to be dealt with (incidentally, you "get sick" all the time, but your immune response is so fast
you often don't notice).
So yes, lymphocyte development is hindered by radiation, which affects your immune system.
The real question is - what proportion of radiation is actually reaching you, and how does that compare to radiation you expose yourself to every day
by eating bananas?
I await the input of a resident physicist.
edit on 15-1-2013 by Dispo because: (no reason given)