CT Scans Increase Cancer Risk in Children



A new study estimates that CT scans performed on children this year will result in almost 5,000 new cases of cancer.


 

CT SCANS INCREASE CANCER RISK IN CHILDREN

As I discuss in my book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, exposure to medical x-rays has only recently been linked to a significant increase in cancer risk, particularly with the use of CT scans that expose patients to relatively large radiation doses at one time.  In fact, the prestigious Institute of Medicine has estimated that as many as 2 percent of all cancer cases are caused by exposure to medical x-rays.

Although cancer is more common during late adulthood, children are also at risk of developing cancer.  Moreover, due to ongoing rapid growth, children are more sensitive to the cancer-causing effects of radiation exposure than adults.

A newly published study, in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, further raises concerns about the current use of CT scans in children.

In this study, the use of CT scans between 1996 and 2010 in children under the age of 15 was analyzed.  Additionally, actual radiation doses were calculated for 744 CT scans performed on children between 2001 and 2011.

Between 1996 and 2006, the use of CT scans doubled among children younger than 5 years of age, and tripled among children between 5 and 14 years of age.  Between 2006 and 2007, the number of CT scans remained stable, and then began to decline somewhat after 2007.

After calculating the radiation dose associated with individual CT scans, the authors of this study calculated that one new case of cancer would be induced in girls for every 300 to 390 CT scans of the abdomen performed, and for every 330 to 480 CT scans of the chest.

When considering the estimated 4 million CT scans performed on children every year in the United States, the authors of this research study estimated that 4,870 children will go on to develop cancer as a result of having undergone a CT scan.  At the same time, they also estimate that reducing the highest 25 percent of CT scan radiation doses to lower levels could prevent at least 43 percent of these radiation-induced cancers.

CT scans can provide enormously important information to treating physicians, but many CT scans performed (on both adults and children) are of questionable clinical value.  Therefore, as a first step in reducing radiation exposure, CT scans should only be ordered when necessary, and only when other types of scans (e.g., plain x-rays, ultrasound or MRI scans) will not suffice.  Secondly, as I have discussed previously, both in A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race and on my website, there is great variability between hospitals, and even within individual hospitals, in the amount of radiation that is used to perform otherwise identical CT scans; and as the authors of this study note, simply reducing excess radiation levels when performing CT scans may cut the number of cancers induced by CT scans nearly in half!

 

For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.com Top 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.

 

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According to recent Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty between September 2001 and December 2011 is more than 12 percent.  A new website, Veterans in Healthcare, seeks to connect veterans with potential employers.  If you are a veteran who works in the healthcare field, or if you are an employer who is looking for physicians, advanced practice professionals, nurses, corpsmen/medics, or other healthcare professionals, then please take a look at Veterans in Healthcare. As a retired veteran of the U.S. Army, I would also like to personally urge you to hire a veteran whenever possible.


Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


 

I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  Over the past 12 months, 3.5 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious readers.  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 


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CT Scans and Cancer Risk in Children





 

A new clinical study suggests that performing CT scans during childhood may significantly increase the risk of leukemia and brain cancer.


 

 

CT SCANS AND CANCER RISK IN CHILDREN

As I discuss in my bestselling book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, exposure to medical x-rays, and particularly exposure to radiation from CT scans, is an under-appreciated cancer risk factor.  Based upon even conservative estimates, exposure to medical radiation is thought to cause at least 1 to 2 percent of all new cancer cases, and most of this medical x-ray exposure comes from CT scans.  Additionally, as I also discuss in my book, there is enormous variation in the amount of radiation exposure associated with CT scans between different hospitals, and even within individual hospitals.  Now, a newly published clinical study suggests that the risk of cancer in children due to medical x-rays may be of particular concern.  This new paper appears in the forthcoming issue of the journal The Lancet.

In this study from the United Kingdom, nearly 180,000 patients who underwent CT scans as children, between 1985 and 2002, were followed.  The incidence of cancer in this very large group of patients was then monitored.

In this study, CT scans that delivered a cumulative radiation dose of at least 30 milligray were associated with three times the subsequent risk of leukemia as was observed in patients who received radiation doses less than 5 milligray.  The incidence of brain cancer was also three times higher among patients who received a cumulative radiation dose of 50 milligray or more from CT scans, when compared to patients who received less than 5 milligray.  Now, it is important to mention that these increases in cancer risk were increases in relative risk.  Since both leukemia and brain cancer are rare diseases, the absolute increase in cancer risk was actually quite small (one excess case of leukemia and one excess case of brain cancer per 10,000 CT scans of the head).  However, the findings of this important study point out the need to reduce radiation doses associated with CT scans to as low a level as is possible, especially for CT scans performed on children.  Moreover, alternative imaging studies to CT scans, such as ultrasound and MRI scans, should be used whenever possible to further reduce the exposure of both pediatric patients and adult patients to medical x-rays.


For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.




Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


 

Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


 

I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  (More than 1.3 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious people who visited Weekly Health Update in 2011!)  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 





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Obese Fathers (Not Obese Mothers) Increase Their Children’s Risk of Obesity






A new study finds that paternal obesity significantly increases the risk of obesity in children, but not maternal obesity.


 

 

OBESE FATHERS (NOT OBESE MOTHERS) INCREASE THEIR CHILDREN’S RISK OF OBESITY

The incidence of obesity has skyrocketed over the past 10 years, and at this time, nearly two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese.  Moreover, fat- and sugar-packed foods, combined with sedentary lifestyles, have resulted not only in an epidemic of obesity among adults, but even our children and teens are heavier than ever before.

A newly published prospective public health study, the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, has reported a rather interesting finding regarding obesity patterns in Australian families.  This study, which appears in the current issue of theInternational Journal of Obesity, followed more than 3,000 men, women and children in two-parent families between 2004 and 2008.  Height and weight data was collected on all family members during this 4-year study.

Not surprisingly, obesity was more common, in general, among the children of obese parents.  However, a very interesting phenomenon was observed in that childhood obesity was significantly associated with having an overweight or obese father and a mother of normal weight, but not with having a normal weight father and an overweight or obese mother.  In this study, children with an overweight or obese father (but a normal weight mother) were nearly 15 times more likely to be obese than children without obese parents.  (Once again, however, having an overweight or obese mother, and a normal weight father, was not associated with an increased risk of childhood obesity when compared to children with normal weight parents.)

While this study was not designed to explain why paternal obesity appeared to increase the risk of childhood obesity, while maternal obesity apparently did not, this unexpected finding suggests that either behavioral or genetic factors (or both) linked to obesity in fathers have a particularly strong impact on their children’s risk of also becoming overweight or obese.  The results of this study also suggest that interventions to prevent childhood obesity may be especially important in families with overweight or obese fathers.

As I discuss in my bestselling book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, the incidence of obesity has skyrocketed over the past 10 years, and obesity is known to significantly increase the risk of multiple types of cancer, including cancers of the breast, esophagus, pancreas, kidney, uterus, colon, rectum, and other organs.  In fact, even conservative estimates suggest that at least 10 percent of all cancer cases are directly linked to obesity.  If you are overweight or obese, please consult with your doctor about safe, evidence-based approaches to weight loss.



For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.


Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


For a lighthearted perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link:

Texas Blues Jam


I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  (More than 1.3 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious people who visited Weekly Health Update in 2011!)  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 






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Kids, Vegetables, Diet, and Rewards

Welcome to Weekly Health Update



KIDS, VEGETABLES, DIET, AND REWARDS

My now 10 year-old daughter used to eat almost everything that we put in front of her when she was a toddler.  Lately, however, she has decided that all she wants to eat is macaroni and cheese or mashed potatoes.  My now 7 year-old son, on the other hand, spent the years between age 3 and age 5 subsisting largely on “chicken nuggets” and multi-vitamins, and little else….  (The first time that I was able to persuade him to eat some broccoli, at age 5, after suggesting that he dip this much-maligned vegetable in ranch sauce and grated parmesan cheese, I was moved nearly to tears!)

Most kids are fussy eaters, and getting your child to eat a healthy, balanced diet can be a serious challenge, if not a perpetual struggle between parent and child.  As with most aspects of child-rearing, there are a number of recommended strategies to get Junior to eat his or her vegetables, and other healthy foods.  However, many of these strategies turn out to be utterly ineffective in practice.  Certainly, one of the most commonly recommended strategies is to offer reluctant young eaters various types of rewards for healthy eating (and which is, in my view, tantamount to bribery, but which has probably been resorted to by most of us parents during times of diet-related desperation, and with varying results).  (As I discuss in my bestselling evidence-based book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, fresh vegetables, whole grains, and reduced meat intake have all been associated with a reduced risk of developing both cancer and cardiovascular disease.)

Given the never-ending mealtime struggles in our own home, I came across an interesting new research study related to this very topic, and which appears in the current issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  In this innovative little prospective, randomized, controlled clinical study, 173 children, ages 3 to 4 years, were divided into three groups.  All of these children were exposed to vegetables, 12 times per day, that they were known to dislike after these vegetables were first introduced.  The first group of children received a tangible reward (a sticker) each time after being served a vegetable that they had initially disliked.  The second group of children received praise as a reward upon being served vegetables that they too had disliked upon initial presentation.  Finally, a third group (the “control group”) was served vegetables that they had also initially disliked, but this group of children did not receive any rewards (i.e., no stickers and no praise).

The findings of this study, while not terribly surprising, offer parents a potential strategy to improve the diets of their (our) vegetable-hating kids.  Of course, the children who were repeatedly served disliked vegetables, and who received no stickers or praise, continued to refuse repeated servings of these vegetables.  However, the toddlers who were bribed with stickers (a material reward) significantly improved their intake of the offending vegetables over time, and this improvement in vegetable consumption persisted when the children were reevaluated 3 months later.  Importantly, the children in this “material reward” group were also significantly more likely to develop a liking for these same vegetables over time!   The third group of children, who received praise (a “social” reward) along with each serving of undesired vegetables, sadly, and somewhat unexpectedly, were no more likely to increase their consumption of these vegetables over time, or to develop a liking for these vegetables, than the kids who were in the “no reward” control group!

In this clinical study of toddlers, offering children a material reward (stickers, in the case of this clinical study) in conjunction with repeated introductions of initially disliked vegetables resulted in a significant improvement, over time, in the willing consumption of these vegetables, as well as in increased “liking” of these same vegetables.  Positive reinforcement through praise was, however, completely ineffective in getting these little tykes to eat (and like) their veggies.

In the case of my son, “the vegetable-hater,” the Broccoli Breakthrough occurred on an evening when I took him and his sister out for dinner.  In exchange for the privilege of the three of us playing a family card game during our meal, and as a result of my inspired suggestion that he combine two foods that he loved (grated parmesan cheese and ranch dipping sauce) with a food that he hated (the aforementioned broccoli), the miracle of witnessing my little guy downing several florets of broccoli coated in ranch sauce and parmesan cheese finally came to pass.  I was so overcome by that moment, two years ago, as was my daughter, that I remember it like it happened yesterday.  Moreover, knowing that my wife would almost certainly doubt my incredible claim that this event had actually occurred, I documented this miraculous development with my cell phone camera on the spot, and emailed it to her from the restaurant that night.  Nearly two years later, I am happy to report that while both of our kids still challenge us in our ongoing efforts to get them to eat a healthy, balanced diet, our son (and daughter) will still regularly eat that most despised vegetable among children, broccoli!

 


For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my new book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-Million,Vroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

On Thanksgiving Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books! On Christmas Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list!


Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


For a different perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link:

Texas Blues Jam


I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people, from around the world, who visit this premier global health information website every month. (More than 1.2 million health-conscious people visited Weekly Health Update in 2010!) As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 



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Cell Phone Use in Children and Teens and Brain Tumor Risk

Welcome to Weekly Health Update


New research suggests that the risk of brain tumors in children and teens associated with routine cell phone use is probably quite small.



 

CELL PHONE USE IN CHILDREN AND TEENS AND BRAIN TUMOR RISK

A possible link between cell phone use and brain tumor risk continues to cause concern among cancer experts.  However, because it would be unethical to intentionally expose human research subjects to prolonged periods of cell phone radiation exposure, it is not possible to perform a prospective, randomized, blinded study to completely resolve this important potential health issue.  Because of this human research limitation, we are left with retrospective research studies that have attempted to estimate potential health risks associated with cell phone exposure (based primarily upon self-reported cell phone use among patients with brain tumors and those without brain tumors).  Therefore, it is not surprising that there are conflicting research results on this topic, with some studies suggesting an increased risk of brain tumors associated with prolonged cell phone use and other studies finding no apparent increased risk of brain tumors with cell phone use.  (I discuss much of this available research in my book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race.)

Because cell phone use clearly exposes the head and brain to some level of microwave radiation (and particularly when cell phones are used without hands-free devices), there has been particular concern about the possibility of brain injury and brain tumor formation among children and adolescents who use cell phones, as not only are their skulls thinner than those of adults, but their rapidly growing brains are thought to be more sensitive to any insults that might increase the risk of brain injury or brain tumor formation.

A newly published clinical research study, which appears in the current issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, represents an important advance in our understanding of the impact of cell phone use on brain tumor risk in children and adolescents. This European study is a case-control study, which compared children and adolescents (ages 7 to 19 years) who were diagnosed with brain tumors with “control subjects” (i.e., healthy children of the same age, sex, and geographical region, and who did not have brain tumors). In this case-control study, interviews were conducted with 352 children and adolescents (and their parents) who had been diagnosed with brain tumors, as well as 646 children and adolescents (and their parents) without a history of brain tumors. A novel approach in this particular clinical research study was the use of mobile phone records, in an attempt to improve the accuracy of self-reported cell phone use by the research volunteers.

The results of this study failed to find any association between the amount of cell phone use and brain tumor risk. Furthermore, there was no apparent association between the location of tumors in the brain and the areas of the brain that are known to receive the highest levels of microwave radiation from cell phone handsets.

The findings of this case-control clinical research study offer some reassurance that routine cell phone use probably does not significantly increase the risk of brain tumors in children and adolescents. However, I would caution readers that other similar studies have suggested an increased risk of at least benign brain tumors among people who extensively use cell phones over long periods of time. Moreover, recent research has shown that metabolism significantly increases in the areas of the brain that are exposed to the greatest amount of radiation during cell phone use, thus proving that brain exposure to cell phone radiation does indeed alter brain function during cell phone use.

In the absence of high-level clinical research data from a prospective, randomized, double-blinded clinical research study, my wife and I limit cell phone use by our two younger children to no more than 5 minutes at a time, and this is my recommendation to readers and patients as well.



For a comprehensive guide to living an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race.  For the price of a cheeseburger, fries, and a shake, you can purchase this landmark new book, in both paperback and e-book formats, and begin living an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle today!

For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million,Vroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

On Thanksgiving Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books! On Christmas Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list!


Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity



Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author



For a different perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link:

Texas Blues Jam



I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people, from around the world, who visit this premier global health information website every month. (More than 1.2 million health-conscious people visited Weekly Health Update in 2010!) As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.





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