A long-standing dogma in the radiation sciences is that energy from radiation must be deposited in the cell nucleus to elicit a biological effect. A number of non-targeted, delayed effects of ionizing radiation have been described that challenge this dogma and pose new challenges to evaluating potential hazards associated with radiation exposure. These effects include induced genomic instability and non-targeted bystander effects. The in vitro evidence for non-targeted effects in radiation biology will be reviewed, but the question as to how one extrapolates from these in vitro observations to the risk of radiation-induced adverse health effects such as cancer remains open.

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