Financial Incentives: Radiation Exposure ‘Soaring’ As Medical Imaging Tests Overused
Just after it was released that CT scan radiation actually triples the risk of brain tumor development in children, new research is now ousting the fact that average radiation exposure from such medical imaging tests has skyrocketed over the past decade. And the result of this admittedly ‘excessive radiation’ is an increased risk of not only cancer, but other significant health conditions.
The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) published the findings of the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), which reveals just how serious the issue of radiation exposure is. Researchers write not only how the rates in which patients are scanned by the radiation-emitting machines are much higher, but there is also some concern over how many patients receive repeat scanning — ultimately leading to higher and higher doses of radiation. For those suffering from chronic issues that need consistent ‘monitoring’ from such devices, this could mean heavy radiation levels on a highly routine basis.
High radiation that is undoubtedly spiking cancer rates, as doctors are openly admitting – the same radiation that has been coming from Fukushima in amounts far exceeding original estimations and causing an ‘unknown’ number of cancer deaths. Dr. Rebecca Smith-Bindman, a professor of radiology and biomedical imaging at UCSF, explains just how dangerous radiation exposure is when it comes to the development of cancer:
“The studies are pretty clear – high exposure to radiation causes cancer.”
Such is the case even for the common dental x-ray – the seemingly harmless imaging technique that is actually associated with a two-fold or higher increased risk of developing brain cancer. This particular research was very effective in measuring the true severity of repeat scans. While patients who received the bitewing x-rays (showing upper and lower back teeth) less than once per year were only 1.1 to 1.6 times more likely to develop brain cancer, more frequent runs proved to come with a hefty price. Those receiving frequent panorex dental x-rays (an x-ray showing all of the teeth) upped their risk by 2.7 or 3.0 times — much greater than those receiving bitewing tests less frequently. What’s more, the risk increased to 4.9 times if the patient was below the age of 10.
So why the increase in medical imaging tests? The study boldly set out to examine the incentives for the spike, even examining financial factors that could play a role. Even more boldly, they reached the conclusion that financial interests were indeed one main driving factor. A sad truth considering the fact that these financial incentives are contributing to the epidemic of cancer — particularly among young children. Smith-Bindman reports:
“One of the thoughts for the change in the rise of imaging is a change in the incentives… It suggests that financial factors may play a role, but there are other factors as well.”
Natural Society staff contribution