Life Extension Magazine August 2010
As We See It
Lethal Danger of CT Scans
By William Faloon
By William Faloon
Medical Radiation and Today’s Breast Cancer Epidemic
Breast cancer incidence has sharply increased since the year 1960. This correlates with an exponential increase in the use of medical X-rays.
The most recently released data indicate that as many as 2,000 excess cases of breast cancer will develop as a result of CT scans performed in the year 2007 alone!38
Dr. John Gofman, however, knew this nearly 40 years earlier. In 1970, Gofman and his colleague Arthur Tamplin wrote to The Lancet39 expressing their concern that the amount of radiation needed to double the risk of breast cancer was very low. Young women were especially vulnerable, he said, and the greater the radiation exposure, the greater the risk. The evidence was there that radiation exposure could significantly increase the risk of breast cancer, but few were following up on this critical research.
In a lecture given at a meeting held by the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1994, Dr. Gofman presented his findings showing that there was increased breast cancer in Japanese women who survived the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.40-42 Studies on mice and guinea pigs showed that cancer-resistant animals developed breast cancer if given repeated doses of radiation.43 But the most damning research about breast cancer and radiation was preliminary data from young women who had undergone repeated fluoroscopies as part of their tuberculosis treatment from 1930-1950. These women were developing breast cancer at more than double the expected rate.44-48
In preparing for the breast cancer talk, Gofman began looking into how many cases of breast cancer in America might be caused by radiation exposure. His first estimate was that 35% of all breast cancer cases wouldn’t exist had the women not been exposed to medical radiation. His revised estimate, published a year later, was 75%.49 Gofman paid particular attention to such exposures during years 1920-1960 because those exposures would contribute to breast cancer rates for at least the next 45 years. Gofman did not believe these exposures were the only cause of the women’s cancers, but he believed they played a major role in making them come about.
According to Gofman, the lag time between radiation exposure and cancer is variable. Data shows that the average lag time between radiation exposure from the American raids on Japan and the appearance of breast cancer in Japanese women was about 12 years.41 However, it can occur sooner or later. Radiation has greater carcinogenic effects on younger people. Data from the Japanese studies show that if a woman was 20 years old or younger when exposed to the radiation, she had a 13-fold elevated risk of breast cancer occurring by the time she was 35 (assuming 1 Sievert of radiation).50 Some studies put the risk for older women at double. Regarding children, it has been stated that 10 rads administered to a fetus is enough to produce all forms of childhood cancer, whereas the same amount in an adult would not have that effect.51-54
Critics were unable to demonstrate that Gofman’s 75% radiation-induced breast cancer figure was wrong. They could challenge it using different assumptions, but as Gofman puts it, “they were unable to show any basis for thinking that their assumptions were more likely to be right than our assumptions.” (Editor’s note: Human radiation research is based necessarily on assumptions because human experiments cannot be done.)
The Other Side of the Story
While the radiation emitted from CT scans will cause hundreds of thousands of cancer cases and an untold number of heart attacks and strokes, this does not mean that they should be banned.
You may remember the term “exploratory surgery” to describe hospital operations that used to be done to diagnose a disease. With the advent of imaging devices like CT scanners, these risky hospital procedures have become a virtual relic of the past.
If a patient suffers an acute stroke, an emergency CT scan can determine whether it is an ischemic (blocked artery) stroke or hemorrhagic (blood vessel bleed) stroke. If an ischemic stroke is quickly diagnosed and treated with a clot-busting drug like TPA (tissue plasminogen activator), brain damage can be mitigated or eliminated. A hemorrhagic stroke, on the other hand, might require immediate surgery to repair the broken blood vessel. CT scans can also help doctors ascertain areas of trauma in severe accidents.
Stroke or accident victims might not have time for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or magnetic resonance angiography and therefore require an immediate CT scan.
While Life Extension recommends that magnetic resonance imaging or ultrasound diagnostics be used in place of X-rays whenever possible, the following medical problems may require that a CT scan be performed as opposed to MRI:
In general, MRI offers better contrast resolution and better assessment of soft tissue pathology like tumors, ligaments, and tendons. MRI also offers the ability to change the reference plan for imaging without needing to move the patient. CT scan, in comparison, is better than MRI at evaluation of bony lesions (e.g., bone metastasis) and bone fractures.
If a CT scan is absolutely necessary, ask that the intensity be modulated so the least amount of radiation needed to obtain an image is used.
Cancer patients can often benefit from whole body PET (positron emission tomography) scans whereby metastatic lesions can be detected by virtue of the “hot spots” that their hypermetabolic activity generates. The amount of radiation emitted in PET scans (or PET CT scans) is similar to a typical CT scan. While avoiding needless radiation is important for otherwise healthy people, cancer patients can benefit from the data gathered from PET scans by virtue of identifying the existence and location of metastatic disease before symptoms manifest.
My Personal Experience with Needless Radiation Exposure
Crooked doctors exposed me to an enormous amount of needless radiation at an early age. Unless the nutrients I take (like high-dose vitamin D) reverse the radiation-induced gene mutations, I will be vulnerable to a host of cancers and heart disease for the rest of my life.
As you have read, medical X-rays not only damage genes that regulate cellular proliferation (thereby increasing cancer risk), but they also damage the inner lining of the arteries (the endothelium) thereby increasing cardiovascular risk.
When I was age 27, I developed some heart palpitations. Had I known a competent cardiologist at the time, my mitral valve prolapse would have been diagnosed by a low-cost ultrasound test.
Instead, I was ordered to check into the hospital where my health insurance company was financially raped in every way imaginable. The cardiologist insisted that I undergo an angiogram, a procedure that involved threading a catheter into my heart to evaluate my arteries and valves. A continuous X-ray is what guided the catheter going into my heart.
The cost in today’s dollars for the needless angiogram I endured is over $20,000. Hospital fees add to this outrageous number.
If you become infuriated when your insurance company refuses to pay for a drug or diagnostic procedure your doctor prescribes, remember that for decades, the conventional medical establishment defrauded health insurance companies by ordering all kinds of unnecessary, expensive tests. Insurance companies have become so defensive today that they often deny patients necessary diagnostics such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that do not emit ionizing radiation.
I hope that anyone reading this article has acquired the information and fortitude to say no the next time their doctor tries to perform an unnecessary X-ray or CT scan.
The Value of Information
When a cardiologist told me that I needed an angiogram, there was no one to turn to for guidance. Conventional medicine ruled in that era, and doctors were seldom challenged. If I could have just called an organization like the Life Extension Foundation® back then, I would have been told that the ultrasound diagnostic procedure was all I needed.
As a Life Extension member, you are armed with cutting-edge information that can enable you to make medical choices based on hard science—not on antiquated dogma or financial bias.
While some medical X-rays are unavoidable, you should inquire as to whether an ultrasound, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), or MRA (magnetic resonance angiography) might provide alternative imaging. You might also question whether a particular X-ray is necessary, as doctors often prescribe them merely to protect themselves from liability. This may be good for doctors as it confirms their diagnosis, but bad for you as your DNA can sustain irreversible damage.
Heart scans, CT scans, whole- body scans, PET scans, and virtual colonoscopies all emit tremendous amounts of radiation and should not be used for routine screening.
I remain dedicated to educating the public to avoid unnecessary CT scans and medical X-rays. Low-cost ultrasounds can sometimes substitute, whereas higher-cost MRIs can sometimes yield more detailed images. Blood tests can provide a better indicator of coronary artery disease risk than heart CT scans, while simultaneously identifying correctable risk factors such as elevated LDL, triglycerides, glucose, and C-reactive protein.
In this month’s issue, we discuss ways of protecting one’s DNA against the carcinogenic and atherogenic effects of ionizing radiation in case a CT scan or medical X-ray is required.
For longer life,
1. Available at: http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/basic-ref/glossary/atomic-energy-commission.html. Accessed Jan 12, 2010.
2. Kalra MK, Maher MM, Rizzo S, Kanarek D, Shepard JA. Radiation exposure from chest CT: issues and strategies. J Korean Med Sci. 2004 Apr;19(2):159-66.
3. Ravenel JG, Scalzetti EM, Huda W, Garrisi W. Radiation exposure and image quality in chest CT examinations. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2001 Aug;177(2):279-84.
4. Huda W, Vance A. Patient radiation doses from adult and pediatric CT. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2007 Feb;188(2):540-6.
5. Available at: http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2010-04-28-chestct28_ST_N.htm. Accessed May 7, 2010.
6. Available at: http://www.bendbulletin.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091029/NEWS0107/910290309/-1/RSSNEWSMAP. Accessed January 12, 2010.
7. Smith-Bindman R, Lipson J, Marcus R, et al. Radiation dose associated with common computed tomography examinations and the associated lifetime attributable risk of cancer. Arch Intern Med. 2009 Dec 14;169(22):2078-86.
8. Berrington de González A, Mahesh M, Kim KP, et al. Projected cancer risks from computed tomographic scans performed in the United States in 2007. Arch Intern Med. 2009 Dec 14;169(22):2071-7.
9. Sutherland BM, Bennett PV, Sidorkina O, Laval J. Clustered DNA damages induced in isolated DNA and in human cells by low doses of ionizing radiation. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2000 Jan 4;97(1):103-8.
10. Boudaiffa B, Cloutier P, Hunting D, Huels MA, Sanche L. Resonant formation of DNA strand breaks by low-energy (3 to 20 eV) electrons. Science. 2000 Mar;287(5458):1658-60.
11. Body Scans. Do you know the risk? Life Extension Magazine. 2001 Nov;7(11).
12. Brenner DJ, Hall EJ. Computed tomography--an increasing source of radiation exposure. N Engl J Med. 2007 Nov 29;357(22):2277-84.
13. Available at: http://www.ratical.org/radiation/CNR/RMP/index.html. Accessed May 7, 2010.
14. Available at: http://www.ratical.org/radiation/CNR/RIC/. Accessed Jan 14, 2010.
15. Available at: http://www.dep.state.pa.us/brp/radon_division/BEIR%20VII%20Preliminary%20Report.pdf. Accessed May 7, 2010.
16. Available at: http://behindthemedicalheadlines.com/articles/full-body-ct-scans-are-they-worth-the-cost-in-money-and-radiation-exposure. Accessed January 20, 2010.
17. Available at: http://blogs.wsj.com/health/2009/10/13/hospital-mistake-gives-patients-radiation-overdose/. Accessed January 15, 2010.
18. Available at: http://articles.latimes.com/2009/oct/13/local/me-cedars13. Accessed January 15, 2010.
19. Available at: http://www.dotmed.com/news/story/10930/. Accessed January 15, 2010.
20. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/16/us/16radiation.html. Accessed January 15, 2010.
21. Gofman JW JW, Lindgren F. The role of lipids and lipoproteins in atherosclerosis. Science. 1950 Feb 17;111(2877):166-71.
22. Gofman JW. Serum lipoproteins and the evaluation of atherosclerosis. Ann NY Acad Sci. 1956 Nov 16;64(4):590-5.
23. Robbin EV, Gofman HF, Lyon TP. The Low-Fat, Low-Cholesterol Diet. Garden City, NY: Doubleday;1951.
24. Available at: http://www.ratical.com/radiation/CNR/synapseP.html. Accessed January 18, 2010.
25. Gofman JW. Radiation-Induced Cancer from Low-Dose Exposure: An Independent Analysis. 1st ed. San Francisco, CA: Committee for Nuclear Responsibility; 1990.
26. Gofman JW. Radiation from Medical Procedures in the Pathogenesis of Cancer and Ischemic Heart Disease: Dose-Response Studies with Physicians per 100,000 Population. 1st ed. San Francisco, CA: Committee for Nuclear Responsibility; 1999.
27. Gofman JW, O’Connor E. Preventing Breast Cancer: the Story of a Major, Proven, Preventable Cause of this Disease. 2nd ed. San Francisco, CA: Committee for Nuclear Responsibility; 1996.
28. Sheehan JF. Foam cell plaques in the intima of irradiated small arteries. Arch Pathol. 1944;37:297–307.
29. Cheng SW, Ting AC, Wu LL. Ultrasonic analysis of plaque characteristics and intimal-medial thickness in radiation-induced atherosclerotic carotid arteries. Eur J Vasc Endovasc Surg. 2002 Dec;24(6):499-504.
30. Dossing M, Rasmussen S, Fischer-Hansen B, Walbom-Jorgensen S. Radiation-induced lesions of the aorta. Br Med J. 1977 Apr 9;1(6066):973.
31. Tribble DL, Barcellos-Hoff MH, Chu BM, Gong EL. Ionizing radiation accelerates aortic lesion formation in fat-fed mice via SOD-inhibitable processes. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 1999 Jun;19(6):1387-92.
32. Verheij M, Dewit LG, Boomgaard MN, Brinkman HJ, van Mourik JA. Ionizing radiation enhances platelet adhesion to the extracellular matrix of human endothelial cells by an increase in the release of von Willebrand factor. Radiat Res. 1994 Feb;137(2):202-7.
33. Takewa Y, Kawata T, Yoshida Y, Kawachi K, Kitamura S. Radiation-induced coronary ostial stenosis, a case of redo coronary bypass for the restenosis following patch angioplasty. Nippon Kyobu Geka Gakkai Zasshi. 1996 Feb;44(2):220-5.
34. Notaristefano S, Giombolini C, Santucci S, et al. Radiation-induced ostial stenosis of the coronary artery as a cause of acute coronary syndromes: a novel mechanism of thrombus formation? Ital Heart J. 2003 May;4(5):341-4.
35. Hicks GL Jr. Coronary artery operation in radiation-associated atherosclerosis: long-term follow-up. Ann Thorac Surg. 1992 Apr;53(4):670-4.
36. Elkeles A. Alpha-ray activity in the large human arteries. Nature. 1969 Feb 15;221(5181):662-4.
37. Elkeles A. Metabolic behavior of alpha-ray activity in large human arteries: relationship to atherosclerosis. J Am Geriatr Soc. 1977 Apr;25(4):179-85.
38. Available at: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34420356/ns/health-cancer/. Accessed January 20, 2010.
39. Tamplin AR, Gofman JW. Radiation-induced breast cancer. Lancet. 1970 Feb 7;1(7641):297.
40. Gofman JW. Ionizing Radiation and Breast Cancer. Unpublished paper presented February 22, 1994 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco.
41. Wanebo CK, Johnson KG, Sato K, Thorslund TW. Breast cancer after exposure to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. N Engl J Med. 1968 Sep 26;279(13):667-71.
42. Tokunaga M, Land CE, Tokuoka S, Nishimori I, Soda M, Akiba S. Incidence of female breast cancer among atomic bomb survivors, 1950-1985. Radiat Res. 1994 May;138(2):209-23.
43. Congdon CC. A review of certain low-level ionizing radiation studies in mice and guinea pigs. Health Phys. 1987 May;52(5):593-7.
44. Howe GR, Miller AB, Sherman GJ. Breast cancer mortality following fluoroscopic irradiation in a cohort of tuberculosis patients. Cancer Detect Prev. 1982;5(2):175-8.
45. Hrubec Z, Boice JD Jr, Monson RR, Rosenstein M. Breast cancer after multiple chest fluoroscopies: second follow-up of Massachusetts women with tuberculosis. Cancer Res. 1989 Jan 1;49(1):229-34.
46. MacKenzie I. Breast cancer following multiple fluoroscopies. Br J Cancer. 1965 Mar;19:1-8.
47. Myrden JA, Hiltz JE. Breast cancer following multiple fluoroscopies during artificial pneumothorax treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis. Can Med Assoc J. 1969 Jun 14;100(22):1032-4.
48. Cook DC, Dent O, Hewitt D. Breast cancer following multiple chest fluoroscopy: the Ontario experience. Can Med Assoc J. 1974 Sep 7;111(5):406-9.
49. Available at:http://www.ratical.org/radiation/CNR/PBC/Comments.html. Accessed May 10, 2010.
50. Land CE, Tokunaga M, Koyama K, et al. Incidence of female breast cancer among atomic bomb survivors, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 1950-1990. Radiat Res. 2003 Dec;160(6):707-17.
51. Stewart A, Kneale GW. Radiation dose effects in relation to obstetric x-rays and childhood cancers. Lancet. 1970 Jun 6;1(7658):1185-8.
52. Tubiana M. The problems raised by the irradiation of pregnant women. Effects of ionizing radiations on the embryon and foetus (author’s transl). Bull Cancer. 1979 66(2):155-64.
53. Available at: http://www.bt.cdc.gov/radiation/prenatalphysician.asp. Accessed January 20, 2010.
54. Bentur Y. Ionizing and nonionizing radiation in pregnancy. In: Koren G. Medication safety in pregnancy and breastfeeding. Philadelphia, PA: McGraw Hill; 2007:221-48.