[ RadSafe ] Dental X-rays and Brain Tumors - Oh My!

Cary Renquist cary.renquist at ezag.com
Fri May 11 18:55:36 CDT 2012

If only articles like this became fodder for the evening news...

Science-Based Medicine » Dental X-rays and Brain Tumors - Oh My! 

Fear sells, and the media loves it. If it's scary, no matter how tenuous the link or inconclusive the study, you are going to see it on the news. How many times over the years have you heard that your cell phone might give you brain cancer, even though it never turns out to be true? Once such a claim is made, however, it becomes lodged into the public's psyche and is accepted as true, even after refutations and retractions are published (see Wakefield, Andrew).

And so it is with x-rays. The latest scare du jour, a recent study out of Yale that claims to show a correlation between dental x-rays and intracranial meningioma - the most common brain tumor and usually benign - has been enjoying widespread attention in newspapers and on the evening news. We don't know if it will be on Dr. Oz, because we can't bring ourselves to watch that show, but we feel the chances are good. Other alt-medders will no doubt have collective woogasms over the story and will further incite fear and mistrust into the doctor-patient relationship.

our Top Three Reasons Not To Panic:
1. The data is primarily anecdotal.
2. The results defy dose response expectations
3. Lost in the background.

We hope this will help you understand why we roll our eyes when a physician reporter on NBC tells the audience that they should be really be refusing x-rays at the dentist. This is dangerous advice coming from someone outside of their field of expertise.

Medical radiation aside, an important question remains: when we all get several hundred μSv of background ionizing radiation through our bodies and brains per year - every year- it seems a bit odd that an extra 10 μSv, even once in your life, would significantly raise your risk of anything to the degree that the Yale study claims.

Cary.renquist at ezag.com

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