Full-body scans and cancer risk

Some of the most health-conscious people I know elect to have full body scans as an early detection method for possible cancer and heart disease. But is it really a good idea? It now appears that these scans expose people to significant amounts of radiation, itself a cause of cancer.

According to a recent study published in the journal Radiology (Radiology, 2004; 232: 735-38),
a single full body scan is enough to increase a person’s lifetime risk of cancer slightly. When scans are repeated on an annual basis the risk increase becomes substantial.

David Brenner, Ph.D., lead author of the study, says “our research provides definitive evidence that radiation risk is associated with full-body CT scans” and “the radiation dose from a full-body CT scan is comparable to the doses received by some of the atomic-bomb survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

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