Washington, DC — On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration announced a new warning system for patients undergoing radiation-generating medical tests, which would give patients clear warning when they receive potentially dangerous doses of radiation.
Today, I want to talk about the real dangers of radiation and medical imaging. One of the most misunderstood aspects of radiation today is the fact that exposure to it -- even a low level of exposure -- is not safe.
You hear scary stories about radiation exposure, but the truth is that even at low levels of exposure there is evidence of serious damage to internal organs, including cancers. For example, even if you only receive a single radiation exposure, you can still develop a thyroid cancer. If you receive multiple exposures, the risk greatly increases.
In a presentation last year, three doctors from the National Academy of Sciences said that the clinical use of ionizing radiation for medical imaging and treatment has “transformed medicine,” but has also significantly increased cancer risk. The scientists warned that the current average annual exposure of 6.6 mSv from medical imaging and treatment is enough to expose more than half of the patients to a lifetime risk of developing a fatal cancer from what is commonly classified as “low dose” exposures.
However, the averages are wrong. Over half of medical imaging occurs in the form of CT scans. Administered at least twice a year, this procedure incorporates ionizing radiation into the body by replacing X-ray diffraction with an invisible form of energy. d2c66b5586