All of the claims which have been made with respect to the physiologic or pathologic effects of radioactive substances must ultimately be carried back to the effects of their radiations on protoplasm. Whether it be the growth of plants in the soil or the destruction of a neoplasm in the body that is involved, the primary reactive substance and responsive mechanism must be associated with living cells. It is reasonable, therefore, to turn to the unit of structure, the cell, in any fundamental inquiry as to the effects of a potent agency on the plant or animal body.
Of course, the other factor, the radiation itself, also deserves consideration. Of the three types of radiations given off by radium, the alpha rays, which are chemically the most active, are of secondary interest here because, owing to their slight power of penetration, they are absorbed by the containers in which the
THE EFFECTS OF RADIUM RAYS ON PROTOPLASM. JAMA. 1916;LXVI(7):510–511. doi:10.1001/jama.1916.02580330044017
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