X-rays are responsible for cancer

World's most comprehensive study with alarming results

X-ray image © Hans-Holger Jend
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X-rays are responsible for many thousands of deadly cancers every year. This is the result of the most comprehensive analysis of data available worldwide. The study published in the journal The Lancet showed that medical X-ray and computed tomography examinations pose risks, in particular.

Scientist Amy Berrington of Oxford University emphasized that in addition to the great benefits of X-ray and computed tomography scans, quantifiable risks must also be considered. "If fluoroscopy is necessary for medical reasons, there is no reason to be concerned." The results of the study were published in The Lancet.

In a first step, the research team estimated the radiation dose to which patients are exposed by each exposure. Subsequently, the scientists collected the number of investigations, which are carried out annually in 15 industrialized nations. These data were entered into a computer model. The so-called "Excess Relative Risk Model" was derived from data obtained from Japanese atomic bomb survivors.

According to NewScientist, there were significant differences worldwide in the number of cancers that can be attributed to X-rays. In the UK, the percentage was lowest at 0.6. America was at 0.9 percent. In Japan, the corresponding value increased to 3.2 percent. Berrington estimates that around 18, 500 cancers are caused annually by the use of X-rays in the countries studied.

In America, the use of X-rays has increased by 20 percent since the early 1980s. The increasing use of computed tomography also contributes to the increased radiation exposure. These observations prompted Berrington and her colleague Sarah Darby to update an older study on the risks posed by X-rays. In 1981, scientists estimated that 0.5 percent of all cancer deaths in America were due to the use of medical X-rays. display

(Press release Europe, 02.02.2004 - NPO)