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hormesis


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A beneficial adaptive reaction to repeated low doses of an agent that has harmful effects at higher doses. The reaction was empirically applied as long ago as in Renaissance Italy by the infamous noblewoman Lucrezia Borgia, who took small incremental doses of poisons to acquire some resistance to their effects before using these poisons on political victims. In the 1960s it was studied quantitatively in reactions to low doses of ionizing radiation and then found to apply quantitatively to some poisonous chemical substances. The effects may include enhanced health, accelerated growth, and more efficient reproduction.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology.


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