Radiation worries: Studies show that when we weigh up the risks against the benefits, the analysis is in favor of using x-rays.
People are often concerned about being exposed to radiation during an X-ray. However, everyone is exposed to sources of natural radiation throughout their life.
The most important point is that cancer caused by radiation is dose-dependent — the more you receive, the higher the risk. The amount of radiation needed for common clinical X-rays is very small.
In fact, the amount of radiation you receive with four mammogram X-rays is about the same as the amount you experience in an aircraft flight over the Atlantic. Radiation coming at the Earth from space is mostly absorbed by the atmosphere, and so you’re exposed to more when travelling at 35,000 ft.
Natural radiation is sometimes known as background radiation. Sources of background radiation include:
- Radon– A naturally occurring radioactive gas found in low levels in the atmosphere.
- Cosmic Rays– A type of radiation that originates from space (from the sun and stars).
- The Earth– Soil and rocks contain various radioactive materials that have been present since the earth was formed; these contribute to our exposure, as do building materials made from soil, rocks and stones.
- Food and Water – For example, nuts, bananas, red meat and potatoes all contain tiny traces of radiation.
Being exposed to X-rays carries a theoretical risk of triggering cancer at a later date, as does exposure to background radiation. However, this risk is very low.
A notable difference occurs when pregnancy is considered. The doses of radiation used during an X-ray aren’t thought to pose a risk to an unborn baby. However, as a precaution, X-rays that directly target the womb (abdominal X-rays) aren’t usually recommended unless there’s a clear clinical need.
Don’t panic if you have an X-ray and later discover that you’re pregnant. Even the most powerful types of X-rays, such as a barium enema, aren’t thought to have any adverse effects on the outcome of a pregnancy.
It is always important to weigh the risk against the benefit when considering having X-rays. Your risk of developing cancer depends on many factors, including your age, lifestyle and genetic make-up.
OSR is happy to have an x-ray machine and team in order to further assist our patients, give us a call today to schedule your consultation, 808-488-5555!