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Medical Scans, Radiation & Cancer? | Medilogy
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Medical Scans, Radiation & Cancer?

Every year thousands of Americans are diagnosed with cancer.  According to the ACS, around 1500 individuals are predicted to die from cancer on a daily basis in 2009, and the statistics have been generally accurate thus far.  One leading cause is due to the large amounts of carcinogens that society is introduced to on a daily basis.  Foods such as red meats contain carcinogens and combined with the different forms of radiation today’s population is constantly bombarded with, the likeliness of a person procuring some form of cancer in his or her lifespan is a staggering percentage.

A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine states that at least four million Americans under the age of 65 are exposed to high amounts of radiation through just medical testing, and around 400,000 of these patients receive doses higher than those allowed for nuclear plant employees.  So the “radiation” from your cell phone isn’t the only thing to worry about now.

While the study does not estimate the number of cancer cases radiation may cause, Dr. Rita Redberg, a researcher and cardiologist at the University of California believes that tens of thousands of additional cases could result from medical imaging.  Researchers calculated the amount of radiations patients received by checking insurance documents carrying codes for various types of tests.  The average American receives an estimated three millisieverts of radiation a year from a combination of sources.

The study found that in a certain year, 1.95% of United Healthcare patients received about seven times the average levels of radiation, and 10% of that group received up to 50 millisieverts.

The use of medical imaging has risen sharply in the past few years and continues to do so.  While physicians are allowed to profit from imaging technology they maintain, Dr. Harlan Krumholz, a cardiologist at Yale, believes that culture is big factor in the increased use of these machines.  “People use imaging instead of examining the patient; they use imaging instead of talking to the patient,”  states Dr. Krumholz.

Dr. Michael S. Lauer, director of prevention and epidemiology at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, has called for clinical trials to be conducted in order to assess whether scans lead to better outcomes for patients.

Cancer development due to radiation is a growing problem, so talk to your doctor about imaging tests you are having done and whether they are absolutely necessary.  A growing amount of physicians are recommending patients to have regular tests done, regardless of whether or not symptoms for a problem exist in the patient.  While the study did not examine what percentage of tests today are medically unnecessary, it would still be a good idea to talk to your doctor before enrolling yourself for a bundle of imaging tests throughout the year.

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One Response to “Medical Scans, Radiation & Cancer?”

  1. Roy Harrison "The Snoring Guy" October 4, 2010 at 2:55 pm #

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