Home Health & Food Repeated x-rays could be dangerous, may increase cancer risk, physician warns

Repeated x-rays could be dangerous, may increase cancer risk, physician warns

by James Davies


Angela Onwuzoo

A Public Health Physician at the Department of Community Medicine, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria, Kaduna State, Dr. Aliyu Sokomba, says an x-ray should only be done when it is absolutely necessary considering its associated risks.

Repeated x-rays, the physician warned, could expose patients to ionizing radiation, disrupt cell formation and cause cancer.

Dr. Sokomba who disclosed this during an interview with PUNCH HealthWise said a patient should worry when asked to do repeatedly do x-ray.

The World Health Organisation says prenatal exposure to ionizing radiation may induce brain damage in foetuses following an acute dose exceeding 100 mSv between weeks 8-15 of pregnancy and 200 mSv between weeks 16-25 of pregnancy.

“Before week eight or after week 25 of pregnancy human studies have not shown radiation risk to fetal brain development. Epidemiological studies indicate that the cancer risk after fetal exposure to radiation is similar to the risk after exposure in early childhood.

“Epidemiological studies on populations exposed to radiation, such as atomic bomb survivors or radiotherapy patients, showed a significant increase of cancer risk at doses above 100 mSv. 

“More recently, some epidemiological studies in individuals exposed to medical exposures during childhood (paediatric CT) suggested that cancer risk may increase even at lower doses (between 50-100 mSv),” WHO says.

Speaking further with our correspondent, Dr. Sokomba said people should be discouraged from having repeated x-rays except if it is absolutely necessary. 

He explained, “When a person is asked to do a repeat x-ray, he is exposed to high ionizing radiation. 

“So many risks are associated with ionizing radiation. Once this radiation gets to your body, it disrupts cell formation.

“It is the cell that produces different structures in your body. This abnormal cell formation can cause cancer. The most common side effect of ionizing radiation is malignancy”. 

Continuing, the physician said, “That is why it is usually discouraged that people should have repeated x-rays done on repeated occasions except it is absolutely necessary.

“X-ray gives more radiation, ultrasound has very minimal radiation tendency; Magnetic resonance imaging has minimal radiation as well as computed tomography scan.”

He noted that those radiations can penetrate the body and affect vital organs”.

According to the WHO, “Annually worldwide, more than 3600 million diagnostic radiology examinations are performed, 37 million nuclear medicine procedures are carried out, and 7.5 million radiotherapy treatments are given”.

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