CT Scans Found to Cause Cancer

A recent news report has revealed the danger surrounding the risk of developing cancer from CT scans is real. For some years, the medical community has fallen under scrutiny from various people in surrounding communities – including patients and folks in the complimentary and alternative health communities – about the dangers of excess radiation sourced from procedures and “routine” tests.

Medical professionals are now admitting that even more radiation is present in these procedures than previously believed. They report that as many as 29,000 Americans will develop cancer from CT scans done in 2007, and 15,000 of those will die.

Whether these numbers are actual or not reaffirms what some people have suspected all along – that the threat of exposure to radiation from CT scans and other related medical procedures is a direct cause of cancer.

Although CT scans provide doctors with what some believe is an unobstructed view inside the body and enables keen diagnostic technology, these machines performing the procedure emit radiation in order to supply doctors with results they seek. In some instances, the results yield no additional information and/or are deemed unnecessary.

The National Library of Medicine released an article on November 30 of this year showing the number of people who receive unnecessary scans on an annual basis – according to the study:

“978 CT abdominal and pelvic series were performed on 500 patients aged 9 months to 91 years. Most of the patients were 30 to 50 years of age. The researchers concluded that 35.3 percent of the CT series in 52.2 percent of the patients were unnecessary, according to American College of Radiology Appropriateness Criteria.”

In addition, the study found the  following:

“Among the 500 patients in the study, the mean excess radiation dose per patient from unnecessary scans was 11.3 millisieverts. That’s equivalent to radiation exposure from 113 chest X-rays or three years of naturally occurring background radiation”.

Ever since I started becomig more aware of natural and organic foods and avoiding chemicals (about 10 years), I’ve also been wary of procedures like this. After my son was born and he became a toddler, everyone started asking why we weren’t taking him to the dentist to have his teeth cleaned, treated with fluoride, and x-rayed.  I’d tell them he got his teeth late and was very squeamish about even brushing his teeth, but also that I just didn’t believe children needed to start going to the dentist that early and proper habits and dental hygiene at home were just fine. My parents who are very conventional about a lot of things, were actually about the only people who agreed with me.

Even before I understood the importance of traditional diets in the formation and maintenance of bone and teeth, I knew x-rays at the dentist’s office were not only unnecessary but that repeated exposure to radiation was harmful to health. Every time I declined the x-ray, my dentist would ask, “are you sure?” Radiation is cumulative, and something that doctors don’t readily admit to – they usually emphasize the “small” amount of radiation to which you are being exposed versus how invaluable the information they can gather from the x-ray is.

But just consider how much radiation and other harmful waves we really are exposed to on a daily basis: cosmic rays from outer space, from all types of household appliances, from clock radios to microwaves, to eletro-magnetic waves from telephone wires, radio waves, television and satellite waves, computer and monitor equipment, wireless devices, and the ever-present cell-phone risk. You don’t even have to own a cell phone or use one to be exposed to the radiation from these devices.

The amounts of radiation from an x-ray at the dentist may seem insignificant alone – but when you add in all the other sources of radiation and electromagnetic frequencies we are exposed to, it’s a monumental amount. And even if you don’t have a precise tally of how much radiation is deadly to receive – which might be impossible – it’s pretty difficult to refute that we are exposed to more than our fair share of it in our natural environments – without having any medical procedures done.

About a year and half ago after we had gone out to dinner and were driving home, my husband started complaining of a pain in his lower right side. Having had acute appendicitis during pregnancy, I was sensitive to this issue and asked how long he’d had the pain. He said it had been coming and going for a few days but now was really bothering him.

After we arrived home the pain worsened, so we decided to go into the E.R. I knew that eating real food and living healthy as we had been doing for at least a few years should help to prevent something like this from happening – but our bad habits had gone on for much longer than our recent change in lifestyle – and maybe it had finally caught up with him.

We spent the entire rest of the night at the hospital. My husband underwent various tests – including a CT scan. After everything was concluded, the doctors could find no cause for his pain. They wanted to prescribe pain medication and recommended he watch himself and call them if things got worse again or changed. I was worried about the CT scan even before they did it – my concern about radiation, which I expressed to the doctor on call – was met with a statement that it simply wasn’t an issue. But I knew better and let them know it. My husband thought it was okay since he was in such pain and “wanted to get to the bottom of what was causing it”.

Healthy lifestyles can prevent illness

After no further information was gathered from this test, I knew in my heart that this was a digestive issue we would have to sort out with detoxification, sticking to a healthy diet, and exercise.  Also, my next door neighbor is a nutritional therapist and my husband had been putting off making an appointment with her to get his digestion straightened out anyway.

He finally admitted that he did need to go and see her to try and get his health back on track. It’s been over a year now since that incident. My husband followed our neighbor’s (and my) advice, and treated it with food and whole food supplementation, as well as detoxification activities. Although he’s still on the road to “full recovery” as I call it (sometimes he’s stubborn and eats things he shouldn’t), he’s doing fine and hasn’t had any recurrence in the pain.

Something else which was reaffirmed to me after our visit to the hospital is that the increase in medical procedures, prescription drugs, and disease in America is directly attributed to the way people in our culture eat – processed, industrially-produced, chemically-laden, and toxic foods. The way we eat and live only adds to our trips to the hospital and the amount of procedures performed like x-rays, CT scans, prescription drug use, and the amount of overall chronic illness we experience, which is exacerbated by more of the same.

Now, I’m not stating that CT scans are absolutely unnecessary in all cases, and that their use should be discontinued. The main concern is that these and other procedures are overused – much like antibiotics. When it becomes so routine to employ a procedure or drug to determine the cause of a problem, it behooves patients to be more cautious and do their own research – and to not just blindly accept a recommendation by a medical professional simply because it’s the most commonly done thing. I think it’s also important the acknowledge that a healthy lifestyle including minimizing exposure to toxins, radiation, and eating real food can go a long way toward keeping people out of the hospital and undergoing costly, unnecessary, and deadly procedures.

Another recent development in the mainstream medical community is that mammograms, another procedure using radiation, are now being cautioned for use until women are over the age of 50 due to the same risk – overexposure to radiation. To read more about the risks of mammography, read To Mammogram or Not.

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5 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Great article, Raine! In Dr. Robert Becker’s book, The Body Electric, which was published over a decade ago, he describes how modern medical imaging techniques do pose some risk and are used too frequently as a generic screening tool rather than for specific diagnosis. He also suggests that because imaging equipment is expensive, medical offices and hospitals are under more pressure to use them. Unfortunately, this seems to have only gotten worse. However, it’s nice to see that the issue is gaining exposure in mainstream media.

  2. 2

    So true Raine, so true.
    X-Rays, CT’s, etc. all have their place in diagnosing but over time if one is subjected to them repeatedly I agree they will lead to worse health issues. For the most part most people won’t have any repercussions from them but there will be ones that will.
    We personally know of a Dr. who died as a result of excessive radiation years ago. He was a long time Radiologist and head of the department. I do not recall the type of cancer he was diagnosed with but it was determined it was caused from his years as a Radiologist and his daily exposure. Most did not see him as he went through the cancer but those that did said his death was slow, horrific, attacked every part of his body and there was nothing they could do for him other than pain management. And to think there are precautions taken when they do these procedures….with the medical person behind a shielded wall or in another room to protect them.

  3. 3

    AS said,

    Thanks for your comments Vin and Pamela. It is horrible to hear about what happened to that poor doctor. And so many others suffer in a similar way. Won’t it be a great day when we’ve realized as a culture and a society about natural cures/remedies and real food to the point that these incidences are dramatically reduced? That’s why we blog about these issues, they are so incredibly important! 🙂

  4. 4

    Meredith said,

    I agree, a lot of scans are definitely not required. But occasionally they are. I had horrible pain in my lower right side. I called my father and described it, he told me he was fairly sure it was my appendix to call my dr immediately. I did and she asked if I would rather come to her office or go straight to the ER. I went to her office, she told me I fit all of the points of the profile of having appendicitis and sent me to the ER with a call to tell them to admit me immediately. I got to the ER. The doctor there examined me and told me that it was clearly appendicitus and he was getting the surgeon in there. The surgeon came in and told me that while he was very confident with the diagnosis, since I was a woman in my 20s there were lots of things going on in the same general area that weren’t my appendix and would I concent to a CT scan just as a confirmation before surgery. I did and it turned out my appendix was fine. There was inflammation in the area but it wasn’t my appendix (and later my color and my ovaries were also cleared – they never found out what it was). So in that case, the CT prevented unneccessary surgery.
    But in another example, my husband is still wishing he could have one of those all body scans where they can check out everything about you and tell you what is wrong or might become wrong. I have repeatedly talked him down from it, but talk about unneccessary, elective radiation! I can’t believe those things are being offered anywhere at all!

  5. 5

    AS said,

    Meredith – I agree that some medical procedures are necessary, that’s why I made sure to state that I wasn’t advocating that all CT scans be discontinued. It’s the people who abuse those procedures who create the problem we’re now having with so many people developing cancer and other degenerative disease. Also, we have to remember the importance of dietary and lifestyle habits in prevention of problems like appendicitis (I had the same thing happen to me in my early 30’s when I was pregnant), and looking back I now know that my poor lifestyle choices led to that problem, and I could have possibly avoided the whole episode had I taken better care of myself.


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