Are medical tests giving us cancer?
That’s the alarming concern raised by of one of the nation’s top cardiologists, Chauncey Crandall, M.D., who says that high-dose radiation imaging is being used far too frequently. Radiation from CT scans, X-rays, and other tests has been proven to increase cancer risk. The more radiation a patient receives, the greater the person’s cancer risk.
In decades past, high-dose radiation diagnostic tests were reserved for serious health conditions. No more, says Dr. Crandall.
“Emergency rooms are now equipped with their own CT scans and they routinely use them on people who come in with all kinds of complaints. The use of these tests and the radiation they emit is skyrocketing. These tests are excellent when used properly, but I’m very concerned their overuse is causing cancer,” says Dr. Crandall, author of the No. 1 Amazon bestselling book, “The Simple Heart Cure.”
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The danger from diagnostic radiation is cumulative. So when CT scans are performed along with other radiation-emitting tests such as dental X-rays, chest X-rays, mammography, bone density testing, and others, the radiation exposure can be enormous, and it can cause a person’s cancer risk to skyrocket.
“The problem with these tests is that they all emit ionizing radiation, the type that can damage DNA and has been linked to the development of cancer over time,” says Dr. Crandall.
Patients may believe that radiation is restricted to the area being tested. For example, when dental X-rays are administered, they may believe that only the mouth is exposed to radiation. Not true.
“Scatter radiation” hits a far wider area, says Dr. Crandall, head of prevention at the Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic and author of the Heart Health Report newsletter.
Over the years, the amount of testing using radiation has soared. In 1990, fewer than 3 million nuclear studies were performed in the U.S. In 2007, this number had increased to 72 million. Researchers at the National Cancer Institute estimate that this testing will cause some 29,000 future cancer cases.
When used appropriately, these tests can be lifesaving, says Dr. Crandall. But doctors sometimes overuse them to avoid malpractice suits or to save time, he says.
Dr. Crandall recommends asking your doctor these questions before undergoing a CT scan or other type of test that uses radiation:
· Is this test necessary? What will you learn about my medical condition from this test that you could not find out by other means?
· Are you ordering this test in accordance with the recommendations established by the leading clinical guidelines?
· Are there any tests that don’t use radiation that can provide you with the information you need?
· Will the equipment that is to be used emit the lowest amount of radiation possible? For instance, a newer CT scanner that is known as the “Ultrafast” can deliver a lower amount of radiation than those that are called spiral or multi-detector CT scanners. Sometimes the type of test requires a CT scanner that emits a higher level of radiation; however this is not always the case.
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