X-ray computed tomography (CT) is a medical imaging method employing tomography created by computer processing. Digital geometry processing is used to generate a three-dimensional image of the inside of an object from a large series of two-dimensional X-ray images taken around a single axis of rotation.
Usage of CT has increased dramatically over the last two decades in many countries. An estimated 72 million scans were performed in the United States in 2007. It is estimated that 0.4% of current cancers in the United States are due to CTs performed in the past and that this may increase to as high as 1.5-2% with 2007 rates of CT usage.
It is projected that in 2010, one in every 10 Americans will have a CT scan. Overall, more than 70 million CT scans – at least four million on children – are performed in the U.S. annually. This is in stark contrast to the mere three million in 1980.
According to an AP story, federal officials are concerned that some medical patients may be getting too much radiation, in part because of the growing frequency of CT scans.
Nationally, the 2008 average for double CT scans of the chest was five percent and for the abdomen was 19 percent, said The Tribune noting that CT scan overuse subjects patients to radiation that could be cancer causing. Experts feel that while CT scans are an important life-saving medical tool, they may be being ordered more often than necessary, explained The Tribune.
Consider this, every double chest CT scan exposes the patient to a massive 700 times more radiation than a chest X-ray; double abdominal scans dose the patient with 22 times more radiation, said The Tribune. Emerging research reveals a link exists between cancer and radiation delivered via diagnostic testing.
Dangers of CT scan
Citing the AP, that although radiation seems to be everywhere, from “airport scanners, power lines, cell phones … microwaves,” the worst comes from medical scans, with Americans—accounting for receipt of half of the more sophisticated medical procedures utilizing radiation–-receiving the largest quantities.
The President’s Cancer Panel (PCP) stated that the link between environmental carcinogens and cancers are much greater than ever realized, pointing to the huge increase in exposure to medical radiation. The PCP report said that a typical “organ dose range for computed tomography (CT),” when considering multiple scans and operator administration, “is 5-100 mSv,” the same dose an “average Hiroshima bomb drop survivor who stood several thousand yards from ground zero” experienced, said DotMed.
According to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2009, CT scan radiation alone will cause nearly 30,000 unnecessary cancer cases. This will lead to about 14,500 deaths, Dr. Mercola points out.
A 2007 New England Journal of Medicine study even gives a much higher estimate of up to 3 million cancer cases due to the overuse of CT scans.
Dr. Mercola believes that many CT scans are unnecessary but are still administered because:
Doctors don’t want to be sued for malpractice if they miss something.
Some patients ask their doctors for unnecessary scans because they are convinced of the benefits of advanced diagnostic tools. The tools they hear about from advertisements don’t even disclose the risks of radiation.
Some doctors want to screen worried and at-risk patients – like former smokers for lung cancer – “just to be safe.”
Doctors seek to earn back their investment on the technology.
Commercially advertised whole-body CT scans want to “find everything wrong with you” and target patients who can afford the procedure.
Other Reasons Why You Should Avoid CT Scans, X-Rays, and Mammogram Radiation
Radiation emitted by diagnostic imaging equipment causes chromosomal mutations and is far more harmful to your DNA than free radicals. Though not lethal, the damage done to the genetic material of every internal organ or cell lying within the path of an X-ray beam is cumulative and irreparable, Dr. Mercola explains.
Explore all other options before undergoing a CT scan, mammogram, or other diagnostic techniques that use radiation.