CT Scans Increase Cancer Risk in Children
August 25, 2013 by Robert Wascher
Filed under A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, CT Scans, Cancer, Cancer Prevention, Children, MRI, MRI Scan, Medical X-rays, Pre-teens, Toddlers, Tweens, Ultrasound, Uncategorized, Weekly Health Update, cancer risk, medical errors, prevention, teenagers, teens
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 Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Vroman’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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Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author
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