What’s the Truth About Radiation Exposure?

Radiation Exposure is a subject that carries a ton of extra philosophical baggage. To many folks, it is an emotional issue. The public hears two opinions about radiation effects. The first says that all radiation is harmful and should be avoided whatever the cost. This group worries about our population exposure as a whole, and what type of genetic damage our children are receiving. Secondly, the group opinion says that radiation at low levels may even be good for you!! This is a serious dichotomy.

No wonder it is an issue with high stakes politically, morally, and financially. The subject can easily fit into the group of topics that you do not discuss with your friends; that is to say, sex, politics, religion, money, and radiation exposure. Just recently there have been a number of articles that have been published on the internet and otherwise debunking the claim that radiation from x-ray machines causes cancer. Once such article is titled “No Proof that X-ray Radiation Causes Cancer”, yet another is titled “Is Low Dose Radiation Exposure Really Harmful?” These arguments were presented as if this the discussion had never been exposed or made public. In fact, this argument has been going since I was in graduate school many years ago. It isn’t new, and why it has been started again this year is questionable.

There have been several patient accidents involving medical radiation in the past ten years that made such an argument redundant. Medical radiation procedures have experienced dose creep as technology has increased. More resolution in the monitors requires more energy to get it there. We are in the world of bigger monitors with more resolution, and this increase in visual integrity has been at the cost of more radiation dose. The fact that radiation is present in the universe and we are exposed to it every day does not justify removing our safety standards and blaming regulators for our protection protocols. There are many natural substances in nature that are not harmful in low doses. We could look at the lead in the Flint, MI water to start our comparison.

The argument is that we should finally and decisively abandon the linear no-threshold (LNT) model of cancer risk from low-dose radiation that happens in medical imaging. However, that is insane because there are areas of medical imaging where the dose is not low. I will not stop asking for protection for my thyroid at the dentist’s office, and I will continue to keep my patients as safe as possible. The articles say there is no proof that low dose radiation causes cancer. The flip side says that they cannot disprove it.

In the meantime, stay safe!

One thought on “What’s the Truth About Radiation Exposure?

  1. I agree we need to maintain patient protection as well as keep ourselves safe. The debate can rage on and on but you said it right we can not disprove the danger either.

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