Stevens, R. G., Morris, J. E. and Anderson, L. E. Hemochromatosis Heterozygotes May Constitute a Radiation-Sensitive Subpopulation.
A primary mechanism of radiation-induced DNA damage is by generation of free radicals. Chronically increased oxidative stress from elevated levels of iron in the body may increase radiation sensitivity by decreasing cellular oxygen radical scavenging capability. Hemochromatosis heterozygotes have elevated body iron. Low-level radiation sensitization by iron may be particularly pertinent for risk of breast cancer. Since 10% of the population appears to be heterozygous for the hemochromatosis gene, a radiosensitizing effect would have pervasive implications.