Can-Do-Ability: Answers and Solutions from my personal experiences of living with a disability

Finally, A Reason NOT To Go To The Dentist, As Researchers Link Dental X-Rays To Cancer

11 Apr 2012Reports have come out of the US today, warning us against the risk of frequent, unnecessary dental x-rays. According to research, a link has been discovered between people who receive frequent dental x-rays and a certain type of cancer.

Studies show that those who receive yearly dental x-rays, are between 1.4 – 2.7 times more likely to be diagnosed with a slow growing tumour that forms around the brain and spinal cord.

The tumour, called a Meningioma, is mostly benign, but its growth can cause disabilities, and other life threatening conditions if left untreated.

This news is likely to spark wide-spread paranoia in an already fearful world. Especially with the technology that we have access to these days, websites such as Google can create further health concerns, just by allowing us to self-diagnose our symptoms. I’m sure there are plenty of you who have Googled your symptoms and thought ‘it’s definitely a tumour!’

Researchers stress that these results shouldn’t stop you from having necessary diagnostic radiation exposure. The chances of getting something, although higher, is still not high enough to stay away from the dentist altogether. The research is based on people who have yearly mouth x-rays.

Currently, children are supposed to have a mouth x-ray at the dentist every 1 to 2 years, while teenagers are every 1.5 to 3 years, and adults are every 2 to 3 years.

The point of this information is to simply make the public aware of the cancer link, and experts are recommending dentists to only perform mouth x-rays, to investigate related dental symptoms.

This article, which you can view here: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/lifestyle/dental-x-rays-linked-to-brain-tumours/story-e6frf00i-1226323168005 - really got me thinking…. I don’t know the exact number of x-rays that I’ve had in my life, but I could definitely say that it’d be up there in the hundreds…. Not to mention CT scans, MRI’s etc.

I’ve always been concerned about what damage could show up later in my system, from all of this radiation… Although my x-rays and scans were all necessary, to investigate what parts of me were broken, and how bad they were, it’s still a bit scary, because there isn’t much research into the long term effects of constant medical radiation exposure, for patients like me.

So, I decided to do some investigations of my own, to see if I could find out anything further. Most of the information I have found, suggests that x-rays alone don’t cause much exposure to radiation. Well, for example, they say that a chest x-ray is about the equivalent to a few days of regular exposure to the sun that most of us experience every week, so there is no ‘real’ harm there.

CT scans however, start to raise the exposure to radiation, and most of the information that I read, suggested to advise your doctor if you have had an excessive amount of CT scans, as there could be other, less harmful ways, for them to find out the information they need, such as an MRI, which gives off a lot less radiation.

It all gets very technical, and I think I’d have to have some sort of degree to be able to understand every possible way of radiation dose measurements, such as; Millisievert’s, rad’s, rem’s, Roentgen’s, Sievert’s and Gray’s. Anyway, all of these names are used to determine the severity of each dose of radiation that we are exposed to.

Even in the atmosphere, and in certain foods that we eat, we get exposed to small, everyday amounts of radiation, and these small amounts are comparable to the amount a regular human being would receive in a lifetime’s worth of x-rays.

So, to sum up, there is no scary indication that I will be more likely to get cancer, but there is a slightly increased risk, especially because of my small size.

There is a 1 in 3 chance that everyone in the world will get cancer anyway, so if someone in my position was to get it, it doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily linked to medical radiation exposure. So there you go something to think about.

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