[ RadSafe ] Breast Cancer Risk, and working in Radiology / Nuclear Medicine

Ruth Sponsler jk5554 at yahoo.com
Fri Mar 9 21:00:17 CST 2007

In addition to information from other hospitals, it
would help their understanding to know about
variations in natural background levels scross the USA
- to see the variations from the generic 360 mrem/y. 
Perhaps some list-members who have *data particular to
their location* could share their various natural
background levels.  

I apologize, but I don't have access to the correct
instrumentation for an accurate reading in my area.  

Of note, however, is high life expectancy in Colorado
- and relatively high natural background levels in
that state.


This helps to put 100 mrem/y into perspective as a
rather low amount.

I gather that you have provided them with the studies
of British


and American



radiologists.  The varying results demonstrate varying
study methodology and statistical variation.

If I took 100 samples of 20 people living in the same
city and of the same age, gender, and race
distribution, not exposed to any particular variable,
and assessed the samples for cancer - some would be
below average and some above.

I know that's probably not very comforting, but
statistical variation is why epidemiology is far from
an exact science.

I think it's important to understand that 100 mrem/y
is within natural background variability here in the
U.S.  I would probably get that much extra just by
moving from New Orleans (very low background) to
Denver - and more if I chose Vail or Leadville.

The reasons that natural background is higher in, say,
Vail Colorado, than, say, Savannah Georgia are:

1 - Rocks and soil.  K-40 is a naturally-occurring
isotope of potassium, which is a component of
feldspars (a common rock in rocky areas).  Also,
uranium and its decay series are present in trace
quantities in granitic and certain other rocks.  The
amounts are low on the Gulf and South Atlantic coastal
plains but a little bit higher in the Appalachian
corridor and the Western states.

2 - Cosmic ray dose goes up with elevation.

3.  Radon is variable.  Radon is quite low on the Gulf
Coast and relatively high in Iowa, southern Minnesota,
the eastern Dakotas, parts of the Rocky Mountains, and
the Reading Prong of Pennsylvania.  It's kind of
intermediate elsewhere.

Ruth Sponsler

--- Diane Griffiths <dianegriffiths at comcast.net>

> I have some nurses that work in Angiography, Cardiac
> Cath, and Nuclear 
> Medicine cardiology that are convinced their jobs
> are causing Breast Cancer. 
> Out of 10 nurses that work in these areas, 2 of them
> recently were diagnosed 
> with breast cancer. I have had multiple meetings
> with them in the last 
> month, and no matter what I tell them they are still
> freaked out. I have 
> found some articles that show that the incidence of
> breast cancer from 
> working in these departments is very low. They don't
> believe the studies and 
> information I have provided them. Their average
> exposure for these nurses is 
> approximately 100 mRem per year. (Some of these
> nurses have been employed 
> since 2002)
> They asked me to check with various hospitals to see
> what percentage of 
> females working in Radiology / Nuclear Medicine are
> being diagnosed with 
> breast cancer and how long they have been working
> around radiation. Can 
> anyone help me with some information from your
> experiences that may help me 
> calm down these nurses?
> I don't want them afraid to work in these areas so I
> would appreciate any 
> information that will help them. They insist that
> the information I have 
> provided them is not real world information, thus
> them wanting me to check 
> with other hospitals.
> Diane
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