Nearly 30,000 Americans Get Cancer From This One Procedure EVERY Year: Will You?

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CT scans yield
higher-resolution images than regular medical X-rays. Unfortunately,
they also expose the patient to hundreds and sometimes thousands
of times the amount of radiation.

The routine
use of CT scans has vastly increased. In 1980, there were roughly
3 million CT scans performed. By 2007, that number had increased
to 70 million. CT scans are now being promoted
to healthy people – even whole body CT scans.

According to
Life Extension Magazine:

u201CThe problem
is that the explosion in unnecessary CT scans has been going on
every year. If we carry this back just ten years, this means that
150,000 Americans are facing horrific deaths from CT scan-induced
cancers.u201D

Source: Life
Extension Magazine August 2010

Dr. Mercola’s
Comments:

Despite clear
evidence that the radiation from x-rays is damaging to your body,
our current medical system continues to promote the careless and
excessive use of radiation-based diagnostic scans.

This
year, one in every 10 Americans will have a CT scan (computed tomography).

The amount
of money spent on medical imaging doubled between 2000 and 2006
to about $14 billion a year – and that is just Medicare alone,
according to a
study by the Government Accountability Office
.

More than 70
million CT scans per year are now performed in the US, including
at least 4 million on children. This is up from just 3 million in
1980.

Nearly 30,000
Get Cancer EVERY Year in the US from CT Scans

According to
a study
in the Archives of Internal Medicine last year
, CT
scans alone will cause nearly 30,000 unnecessary cancer
cases (about 2 percent of cancer cases), which will lead to about
14,500 deaths.

But wait, there's
more bad news.

While 30,000
cancer cases is a large number, a New
England Journal of Medicine
study from 2007 estimated that
overuse of diagnostic CT scans may cause up to 3
million excess cancers
over the next 20 to 30 years.

For those slow
on math that is 1,00X more deaths over the next 25 years.

David Brenner
of Columbia University, lead author of the study, told USA
Today
:

“About
one-third of all CT scans that are done right now are medically
unnecessary … Virtually anyone who presents in the emergency room
with pain in the belly or a chronic headache will automatically
get a CT scan. Is that justified?”

Why are so
many CT scans being done, when they result in so many unnecessary
deaths?

There are several
reasons:

  • Physicians
    fear being sued for malpractice if they miss something.
  • Some patients
    pressure their physicians for scans u201Cjust to be safe,u201D especially
    after hearing advertisements touting the benefits of new hi-tech
    tests (without disclosure of the risks).
  • Physicians
    are more often using scans to screen u201Cthe worried wellu201D (such
    as scanning former smokers for lung cancer).
  • Many doctors
    have purchased their own imaging equipment for their practices.
    This adds a financial incentive into the mix and sets the stage
    for overuse of the technology.
  • There's
    a trend toward commercially advertised full-body
    CT scans
    to u201Cfind everything wrong with you.u201D Consumers with
    extra cash lying around (in excess of $1,000 in most cases) are
    being encouraged to undergo a full-body scan as a preventive measure.

While high-tech
imaging can be beneficial in certain cases, it must be used SPARINGLY
because it exposes your body to dangerous radiation – radiation
that is proven to cause cancer.

And you are
being exposed to more radiation from your diagnostic test than was
previously thought. Studies have recently found that radiation
doses from CT scans tend to be higher than the amounts generally
reported
.

When the diagnostic
procedure causes the disease you are trying to avoid, perhaps you
should reconsider the procedure!

Becoming aware
of the risks of medical scans is part of becoming a smart consumer
and knowing your health care options. Research suggests that a dismal
seven percent of patients are informed of the risks of CT scans.

Why X-Rays
are so Damaging to Your Health

There are four
primary reasons that x-rays (and other diagnostic tests that rely
on ionizing radiation, such as mammograms and CTs) should be minimized:

  1. They cause
    chromosomal mutations that are often irreparable, and the effects
    are cumulative.
  2. They cause
    DNA changes that are proven to lead to cancer.
  3. They cause
    DNA damage in your arteries, which can lead to cardiovascular
    disease.
  4. They often
    result in misdiagnosis and false positives, increasing the likelihood
    of follow up tests – further increasing your radiation exposure.

X-rays and
other types of ionizing radiation have been, for decades, a proven
cause of virtually all types of mutations – especially structural
chromosomal mutations. X-rays are an established cause of genomic
instability, which is frequently seen in the most aggressive cancers.

X-rays act
like tiny little u201Cgrenadesu201D that are far more damaging to your DNA
than the metabolic free radicals, which are routinely produced by
your cell's natural metabolism. Ionizing radiation can damage the
genetic material of every internal organ or cell lying within the
path of an x-ray beam. Within an organ, even a single high-speed
high-energy electron, set into motion by an x-ray photon, has a
chance of inducing the types of damage that defy repair.

That is
why there is no safe dose of x-rays.

And when such
mutations are not lethal to the cell, they persist and accumulate
with each additional exposure to x-rays or other ionizing radiation.

On top of the
DNA mutation effects, there is the issue of arterial damage and
increased risk of blood clots.

How can radiation
move you closer to a heart attack?

Radiation
damages the DNA in your arteries
, which in turn causes the cells
lining your arteries to multiply abnormally, decreasing the size
of the arterial lumen and effectively u201Cnarrowingu201D your arteries.
This radiation-induced tissue inside your arteries is similar to
scar tissue, decreasing vessel elasticity and increasing your risk
for arterial blockage.

According to
John Gofman, M.D., Ph.D., evidence indicates that more than 50 percent
of deaths from cancer and more than 60 percent of deaths from ischemic
heart disease may
be x-ray-induced
.

Misdiagnosis
— Yet Another Drawback that Can Significantly Harm Your Health

Full
body scans (as well as mammograms) can frequently lead to misdiagnosis

rather than provide peace of mind. They are notoriously unreliable
and often have incidental findings that are within the u201Cnormal rangeu201D
of variation, but worry the patient needlessly and create the desire
for follow-up tests, and/or even more unnecessary medical interventions.

False positive
diagnoses are far more common than you might think – as high
as 89 percent in mammograms! – leading many to be unnecessarily
and harmfully treated by mastectomy, more radiation, or chemotherapy.

Just the stress
of having to cope with a diagnosis of a potential cancer could be
enough to move the body toward disease and away from health.

Radiation
Accidents More Common than You Might Think

If the dangers
of u201Cproperly executedu201D CT scans don't scare you, the additional
risk of x-rays-gone-wrong will undoubtedly give you a chill.

The complexity
of medical radiation technology has created new avenues for error
by way of software flaws, faulty programming, poor safety procedures
or inadequate staffing and training.

When those
errors occur, they can be severe — even deadly.

The following
types of radiation injuries have been reported:

  • DNA damage
    and mutations
  • Acute radiation
    toxicity (burned skin, nausea, dry mouth, difficulty swallowing,
    loss of taste, tongue swelling, hair loss, etc.)
  • Skin burns,
    including gaping holes in the body that won't close
  • Wounds that
    won't heal due to damaged blood vessels and chronic inflammation,
    which deprive the area of nourishment
  • Organ damage
  • Bone death,
    such as destruction of the jaw, and loss of teeth
  • Death

The
New York Times published an article in January of 2010

about the alarming rise in radiation-related injuries and deaths,
including those listed above. People know very little about the
harm that can ensue when safety rules are violated and these powerful
and technologically complex machines go awry.

The difference
between a routine CT scan and a death sentence is as simple as a
computer error causing you to be blasted with errant beams of radiation,
leaving you in unspeakable pain, or worse.

Your Odds
May be as Low as 1 in 20 for Sustaining a Radiation Injury

There is no
good estimate of the frequency of these radiation accidents –
regulators and researchers can only guess how often radiologic mishaps
occur. They're chronically underreported, and some states don't
require they be reported at all.

Dr. John Feldmeier,
an authority on the treatment of radiation injuries, estimates that
1 in 20 patients will suffer radiation injuries. According to the
New York Times article, the nation's largest wound care
company treated 3,000 severe radiation injuries in 2009 alone.

You might not
even realize you've suffered radiation overexposure, if you don't
happen to connect your symptoms to the radiological event.

This is precisely
what happened to 200 patients in Los Angeles who underwent a specific
type of CT brain scan at Cedars-Sinai
Medical Center
. The unsuspecting patients received eight to
10 times the normal dose of radiation due to an incorrectly programmed
machine. The overdose wasn't discovered for 18 months and only came
to light after a patient reported losing patches of hair following
the scan.

On the whole,
diagnostic imaging tests have increased your average radiation exposure
sevenfold since 1980.

Increased exposure
means increased cancer risk.

Widely Overused
CT Scans May Cause 1 Million Excess Cancers per Decade

There is no
doubt the use of radiation in medicine has many benefits –
that's indisputable. However, you may not be aware you could be
having the same x-rays done for a fraction of the radiation
exposure.

Within the
professions of radiology and radiologic physics, there are mainstream
experts who have shown how the dosage of x-rays in current practice
could
be cut by more than 50 percent
, without any loss of information
and without eliminating a single procedure.

The potential
for dose-reduction may far exceed 50 percent without loss of quality,
and in fact with an improvement in quality due to uniform
exposure:

  • Radiation
    can be reduced at least 5-fold for some common x-ray exams
  • Radiation
    can be reduced at least 8-fold for abdominal exposures
  • Mammogram
    radiation can be reduced 55- to 69-fold for various breast images

One CT Scan
is 100 Times More Dangerous than Chest X-Ray

CT scans emit
far more radiation than conventional X-rays – a CT scan of
the chest delivers 100 times the radiation of a
conventional chest X-ray, and a mammogram
delivers 1,000 times more radiation
.

Over a ten-year
period, a
woman can receive as much radiation exposure (5 rads) from routine
mammograms as a Japanese woman one mile from the epicenter of the
atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima or Nagasaki
.

Many nonessential
radiation-based scans could be eliminated altogether.

Thousands
of Children Die Every Year from CT Scans

High doses
of radiation are of particular danger to children, because they
have many developing cells and organs. Children also have many years
of life ahead of them over which they will experience multiple x-rays
– and the risk is cumulative.

What is inexcusable
is that CT scans given to kids are typically calibrated for
adults. Children are routinely receiving two to six times the
radiation necessary to accomplish the task (American
Journal of Roentgenology 2001
).

As a result,
it is estimated that 1500
children may die each year from CT scans they had earlier in life.

How You Can
Protect Yourself from u201CIndecent Exposureu201D

I would encourage
you to avoid x-rays whenever possible.

There may be
times when a CT scan is warranted, depending on your condition.
But oftentimes a CT scan can be substituted with an MRI or an ultrasound,
both of which have fewer harmful side effects, while still able
to produce the necessary information.

The UC
Berkeley Wellness Letter
offers some good suggestions for questions
you should ask before undergoing a diagnostic scan:

  • Is the test
    really necessary?
  • What difference
    will it make in my care?
  • Is there
    a non-radiation alternative, such as ultrasound or MRI?
  • Is the facility
    accredited by the American College of Radiology?
  • Will the
    test use the lowest level of radiation for adequate imaging? (Will
    it be adjusted for my size, or my child's size?)
  • Will the
    scan be limited to the indicated area, and will nearby areas be
    shielded?

Avoid CT Scans
Unless Your Life Depends on It

I believe the
evidence is very clear that you need to avoid CT scans at all costs.
There is absolutely no justification to use a full body scan as
a screening of any sort. That is just utter nonsense and the risk
in no way justifies the benefit.

Occasionally
CT scans are useful diagnostically, but in most cases MRIs can provide
similar imaging results and at this time appear to be far safer.

Natural Ways
to Help You Strengthen Your Body Against the Assaults of Medical
Radiation

In addition
to seeking to avoid unnecessary radiation exposure and using the
safest medical testing available whenever you do need a medical
image test, you may be able to lower your radiation-induced risk
for cancer by using a potent antioxidant.

If, for whatever
reason you are forced into a CT scan, this is the best advice I
can give you, to protect yourself from this massive ionizing radiation
exposure…

Astaxanthin
is a potent carotenoid and everything I have studied suggests it
is the most potent antioxidant to protect against this type of damage.
You can take 2–4 mg of astaxanthin to protect your cells and
tissues.

The downside,
however, is that you need to be on it for several weeks
to prevent the damage.

The side benefit
is that the astaxanthin will also likely prevent the most common
cause of blindness, age related macular degeneration, cataracts
and also help protect you from getting sunburned.

A 100% Safe
Imaging Alternative to Mammograms

As mentioned
earlier, mammography is another example of overused, risky imaging
technology. Not only does it expose you to potentially dangerous
amounts of radiation, it also compresses your breasts tightly, which
can actually spread dangerous cancer cells, should they exist.

Updated
guidelines
now call for women under 50 to forego routine screening
mammography. This is a small step in the right direction; however,
there is a far better option.

I highly recommend
thermography,
particularly for breast screening.

Thermographic
screening is entirely safe, non-invasive, and brilliantly simple.
This technology measures the radiation of infrared heat from your
body and translates the information into anatomical images.

There is no
pressure or compression of your breasts, and no radiation. Perhaps
best of all, this imaging system can detect signs of breast cancer
up to 10 years before either a mammogram or a physical exam.

If your doctor
or other health care provider recommends a CT scan, mammogram or
other imaging technique as either a screening tool or to diagnose
a physical complaint, I strongly encourage you to explore all your
options before agreeing to be radiated.

Don't trade
your good health or a minor complaint for an increased risk of x-ray-induced
cancer in the future.

September
27, 2010

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