Medical Radiation Increases Cancer Risk Factors

by Dr. Julian Whitaker
Filed Under: CT Scans, Useless Medicine
Last Reviewed 02/21/2014

Medical Radiation Increases Cancer Risk Factors

Millions of Americans undergo computed tomography, or CT scans, every year. The reason is obvious. CT scans are big business. But the overuse of these high-tech scans not only drives up medical costs, it also has a potentially deadly side effect, increasing your cancer risk factors.

Research has shown that these scans increase overall cancer rates by exposing patients to incredibly high doses of medical radiation—as much as was received by survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs! And new findings by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) provide further proof of their link specifically to breast cancer. 

The IOM recently reviewed all the environmental breast cancer risk factors and came up with two proven culprits.

Known Breast Cancer Risk Factors

  • Conventional hormone replacement therapy with conjugated estrogen and progestin (not bioidentical hormones).

  • Exposure to ionizing (including medical) radiation—especially CT scans, which according to many experts are often unwarranted.

In the Archives of Internal Medicine, Rebecca Smith-Bindman, M.D., calls out “imaging enthusiasts” who believe patients should not even be told about the risks of medical radiation exposure for fear they’ll refuse necessary CTs. She also emphasizes that avoiding or cutting back on medical radiation is a proven, important action women should take to reduce breast cancer risk factors.

Dr. Smith-Bindman’s observations also confirm what was revealed by previous surveys of radiologists and emergency room physicians: Three-quarters of them gravely underestimated the medical radiation doses these scans exude. More disturbing, 91 percent of the E.R. docs and 53 percent of the radiologists did not feel the scans increased cancer risk factors.

Realistically, CT scan use isn’t likely to ease up any time soon—there’s just too much money at stake. Most hospitals, many doctors’ offices and growing numbers of screening facilities have CT scanners, so there is a strong economic incentive to use them.

The bottom line: If you’re recommended to have a CT or related scan, question its necessity and ask about safer options. 

Now it’s your turn: Have you ever questioned your doctor about the necessity of a CT scan and the cancer risk factors?

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