Over one-third of Cat scans could be replaced with alternative tests. Too many CT scans are done; often for questionable reasons, as headaches, seizures and trauma.
In 1980 there were 3 million CT scans. Last year there were 62 million and 14 million of these were done on children. The scans give more radiation than conventional X-rays and this increased exposure will injure many people in the future.
The scans give a 3D view of organs in the body. Organ CT scans require over 50 times the x-ray dose as an abdominal CT scan.
The ionizing radiation affects the bonding energy of electrons orbiting around atoms and molecules. They knock some electrons out of their orbit and thus create hydroxyl radicals as the x-rays hit water molecules. The hydroxyl radicals break DNA strands and ionize the DNA.
Most of the damage is repaired within the cell, BUT the DNA double strand breaks are not repaired and cause mutations and chromosomal translocations, and gene fusion. All of the above LEAD TO CANCER FORMATION.
It has been proven epidemiologically that 3 scans result in an increased risk of cancer. It will take several years to estimate the exact cancer risk from these exposures. Children especially are more radiation sensitive and have many more years of life to get the cancers.
Too many CT scans are done; often for questionable reasons, as headaches, seizures and trauma. Many of them are ordered to protect the doctor from unnecessary legal exposure. This defensive medicine is multiplied as a patient is sent from one doctor to another and each orders the same scan because of poor communication. Over one third of these scans could be replaced with alternative tests as ultrasounds or MRIs.
If you really need a CT scan medically, the risk is small compared to the information received. Yet over 29 million adults and 1 million kids are each year irradiated unnecessarily. Are you one of them?
Source: NEJM 11.29.2007