April 10, 2012
How often does your dentist insist on giving you a dental X-ray just to make sure all is well? While a dental x-ray may be justifiable if there is some serious risk, research is pointing out that too many of these X-rays may result in a twofold risk increase in a brain cancer known as meningioma.
Dental X-Rays Could Increase Brain Cancer Risk
For the research, Elizabeth B. Claus, MD, PhD, of Yale University, and colleagues examined the records of 1,433 patients who were diagnosed with meningioma between May 2006 and April 2011. The researchers made a control group matched for sex, age, and geography. Researchers found that bitewing X-rays (showing upper and lower back teeth) performed less than once per year was associated with patients being 1.1 to 1.6 times more likely to experience meningioma across age groups. They also found that annual or more frequent panorex dental X-ray (an X-ray showing all teeth and surrounding bones) exposure increased odds by 2.7 to 3.0 in 3 of the oldest age groups, while x-rays performed “before age 10 was associated with a meningioma odds ratio of 4.9.”
“The findings presented here are important, because dental x-rays remain the most common artificial source of exposure to ionizing radiation for individuals living in the U.S. The primary environmental (and generally modifiable) risk factor consistently identified for meningioma is exposure to ionizing radiation,” Claus and co-authors wrote.
While there are many studies examining the effects of ionizing radiation in high doses, less than 200 are available which focus on low-dose ionizing radiation. What’s more, many of the produced studies honing in on dental X-rays were performed during a time when the X-rays were at higher doses. The recent research draws the association between dental X-rays and increased meningioma risk using up-to-date dental procedures. Sometimes the X-rays are performed routinely, while other times it may be done to keep watch on cavity-prone teeth. The cavity-driven lends an even greater reason to learn how to prevent cavities naturally, ultimately preventing any exposure to routine X-rays or other dental procedures.
In any situation, radiation-inducing procedures should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. It seems that the medical establishment is administering these procedures at alarming rates in many areas, as exemplified with many cancers such as breast cancer in regards to excessive breast cancer screening. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to your doctor or dentist when they push any safety measure or treatment on you which involves radiation.