Doctors and patients who are afraid that CT scans and X-rays may open the door for increased cancer risks can breathe a sigh of relief. Researchers say there is absolutely no evidence that low-level radiation used in standard medical imaging, causes cancer. In fact, they are taking issue with a 70-year-old model that is still used to estimate cancer risks from low-dose radiation even though that model is not supported by empirical evidence, they contend.
CT scans and X-rays do give off low doses of radiation when they are in use. The level of exposure, researchers say, is very, very small. It’s small enough, in fact, the human body has the ability to repair any damage sustained. The model used today in making recommendations about radiation exposure, however, assumes that no level of radiation is safe. This assumption comes even though radiation is also found naturally occurring in the environment.
To back up their claims, researchers replicated experiments used in creating the original “no safe level” recommendations. The results were not the same, giving credence to the idea that low-dose radiation does not increase cancer risk.
The bottom line, researchers say, is that CT scans, X-rays and other low-dose radiation diagnostic tools are valuable for diagnosis and treating disease and illness. Avoiding their use out of fear of cancer risk may open the door for serious problems if diseases and injury are allowed to go undiagnosed and improperly treated.
People who are advised to report for X-rays and other testing procedures will find these tests are fast, painless and do not pose any significant risks. If there are concerns about why they are being ordered, patients are urged to discuss the topic with their healthcare provider. The good news, however, is that those who have undergone X-rays and CTs in the past don’t have to worry that the practice has put them at higher risk for developing cancer.