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Doctors Shocked by Hospital Radiation Overexposure

November 03, 2009 | 47,354 views

radiation, ionizing radiation, CT scan, mammogram, thermography, x-ray, xray, cancerDoctors have expressed outrage and concern for the unsuspecting patients who received eight times the normal dose of radiation during a specific type of brain scan at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

The overdose was discovered when a patient reported lost patches of hair following a CT scan. The error remained unchecked for 18 months, involved more than 200 people, and exacerbated existing concerns that patients nationwide are being exposed to excess radiation during medical testing.

Diagnostic imaging tests have increased Americans' average radiation exposure seven times since 1980. Increased exposure leads to increased cancer risk.

 

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Diagnostic imaging tests such as X-rays, mammograms, and CT machines have become a routine part of medical care. They’re not only used in major hospitals, but in private doctors' offices, chiropractic offices, outpatient facilities and other medical centers.

But the central question for the safety of you and your family is “are they being appropriately tested, calibrated and maintained to ensure your safety?”

As mentioned in the article above, many facilities simply can’t (or don’t want to) pay for key safety experts like physicists and engineers, since they do not contribute directly to the financial bottom line.

These types of tests are now so common that American’s average radiation exposure has increased seven times since 1980, according to the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements. And while there are government regulations in place to prevent overexposure on the job, no such regulations exist when the radiation is used for medical purposes.

As Dr. Freedman is quoted as saying:

"There is no government limit on what you can give a patient when it's a diagnostic test. It's assumed that medically, you do what you need to do and worry about the complications later."

Unfortunately, many people are completely unaware of these potential complications and ramifications.

Radiation Imaging Tests Increase Cancer and Heart Disease Risks

Although they claim that no one suffered any long-term damage from their overexposure at Cedars-Sinai, there’s no guarantee that this is the case.

Some of the more than 200 patients affected received twice as much radiation as the average cancer patient would receive in one treatment, and these people did not have cancer cells to eradicate. And it’s already known that increased exposure to radiation increases your cancer risk.

In fact, according to John Gofman, MD, PhD, there is strong evidence that 50 percent of the death rate from cancer, and 60 percent of the death rate from ischemic heart disease today are induced by ionizing radiation treatments.

The concept of x-ray-induced cases means “cases that would not exist were it not for exposure to x-rays.”

Dr. Gofman is both a nuclear physicist and a medical doctor, and is one of the leading experts in the world on this issue. He presents compelling evidence backing up these assertions in his book Radiation from Medical Procedures in the Pathogenesis of Cancer and Ischemic Heart Disease.

For decades, x-rays and other classes of ionizing radiation have been a proven cause of virtually all types of mutations, especially structural chromosomal mutations. X-rays are also an established cause of genomic instability, often a characteristic of the most aggressive cancers.

Widely Overused CT Scans May Cause 3 Million Excess Cancers

More than 62 million CT scans per year are performed in the United States, including at least 4 million on children, according to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). This is up from just 3 million in 1980.

But what many people don't know is that 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.

What's more, CT scans given to kids are typically calibrated for adults, so children absorb two to six times the radiation needed to produce clear images -- and 1,500 may die each year of radiation-induced cancer later in life.

Further, the NEJM study estimated that overuse of diagnostic CT scans may cause up to 3 million excess cancers in the next two or three decades. 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?"

How Radiation Directly Damages Your Health

The biological damage from a medical x-ray procedure is not caused directly from the x-rays. The damage comes from electrons, which are “kicked” out of their normal atomic orbits within human tissues by the x-ray’s photons.

Endowed with biologically unnatural energy by the photons, such electrons leave their atomic orbits and travel with high speed and high energy through your cells.

Each of these electrons then gradually slows down, as it unloads portions of its biologically unnatural energy, at irregular intervals, onto various biological molecules along its path. The molecular victims include your DNA, and the structural proteins of your chromosomes, and water.

Even though each energy-deposit transfers only a portion of the total energy of a high-speed, high-energy electron, these single deposits often have energies far exceeding any energy-transfer that occurs in a natural biochemical reaction. Instead, these energy-deposits are more like grenades and small bombs.

As a result of these "grenades," both strands of your opposing DNA can experience significant damage and mutations.

Unlike some other mutagens, x-rays have access to the genetic molecules of every internal organ, if the organ is within the x-ray beam. Within such organs, 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 is beyond what your body can repair.

That is why there is no risk-free (safe) dose level for ionizing radiation.

Why I Do Not Recommend Mammograms

In addition to everything just mentioned, radiation risks are about four times greater for the 1 to 2 percent of women who are silent carriers of the A-T (ataxia-telangiectasia) gene, which by some estimates accounts for up to 20 percent of all breast cancers diagnosed annually.

This is why, when everything is taken into account, reducing exposure to medical radiation such as unnecessary mammograms would actually likely reduce mortality rates, rather than the other way around.

So the practice of screening mammography itself poses significant and cumulative risks of breast cancer, especially for premenopausal women.

Making matters even worse, false positive diagnoses are very common – as high as 89 percent – leading many women to be unnecessarily and harmfully treated by mastectomy, more radiation, or chemotherapy.

There are instances where mammography may be warranted. But the fact remains that there are other technologies that are proven to be more effective, less expensive, and completely harmless, that can save far more lives.

Imagine being able to look inside yourself and be able to get as much as 10 years warning that something is about to develop, giving you ample time to PREVENT the cancer from forming in the first place by making the appropriate lifestyle changes that can radically change your health.

That technology already exists, and has been available since the 1960s.

Thermographic Screening – A Safer, More Effective Alternative

Most physicians continue to recommend mammograms for fear of being sued by a woman who develops breast cancer after he did not advise her to get one. But I encourage you to think for yourself and consider safer, more effective alternatives to mammograms that will not expose you to any radiation whatsoever.

The option for breast screening that I most highly recommend is called thermographic breast screening. But it can also be used to screen for a number of other health conditions and cancers.

Thermographic screening is brilliantly simple. It measures the radiation of infrared heat from your body and translates this information into anatomical images. Your normal blood circulation is under the control of your autonomic nervous system, which governs your body functions.

Thermography uses no mechanical pressure or ionizing radiation, and can detect signs of breast cancer as much as 10 years earlier than either mammography or a physical exam!

Whereas mammography cannot detect a tumor until after it has been growing for years and reaches a certain size, thermography is able to detect the potential for cancer before any tumors have formed because it can image the early stages of angiogenesis -- the formation of a direct supply of blood to cancer cells, which is a necessary step before they can grow into tumors of size.

More men’s lives could also be spared as mammography is not frequently used on men, which leads to most men with breast cancer being diagnosed at a very late stage.


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