Radiation in health care is dangerous

recent piece in the New York Times states that the biggest danger of radiation may come from “health care.”   the authors comment that:

 cancer rates remain stubbornly high and may soon surpass heart disease as the leading cause of death in the United States. Increasingly, we and many other experts believe that an important culprit may be our own medical practices: We are silently irradiating ourselves to death.  A 2009 study from the National Cancer Institute estimates that CT scans conducted in 2007 will cause a projected 29,000 excess cancer cases and 14,500 excess deaths over the lifetime of those exposed. Given the many scans performed over the last several years, a reasonable estimate of excess lifetime cancers would be in the hundreds of thousands. According to our calculations, unless we change our current practices, 3 percent to 5 percent of all future cancers may result from exposure to medical imaging…

A recent study at one New York hospital found that nearly a third of its patients undergoing multiple cardiac imaging tests were getting a cumulative effective dose of more than 100 millisieverts of radiation — equivalent to 5,000 chest X-rays.

     Many people are rightly concerned about nuclear weapons and nuclear reactors.   The nuclear industry has been most successful in promoting the friendly atom for peaceful purposes in health care.  Yet, all these medical tests have had a significant harm on ourselves.   Every time a head injury, such as a concussion from football or cheerleading, or an auto accident is assessed with a CT scan, that person has increased the risk of getting cancer.   If a doctor orders a radiological study just to be sure, it may be reasonable to decline the test.  Being sure may be contributing factor to cancer.

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