Friday, June 17, 2011

Dental X-rays- Do They Cause Thyroid Cancer?

Do dentists take too many x-rays, and can these cause thyroid cancer?

I't incredible how much influence can a popular show like Oprah have on their audience.

Dr. Mehmet Oz said that thyroid cancer was “the fastest-growing cancer in women” and cited the harmful effects of radiation from sources like dental X-rays and mammograms.

Here are some facts for you to consider:

X-rays are one type of radiation, and radiation is absorbed by our tissues as it passes through them.

Small amounts of radiation absorbed by the tissues have not been shown to cause harm, but large amounts or prolonged exposure can cause tissue changes such as cell death, mutations and cancer.

Radiation effects are cumulative, so in theory low doses over time could add up to a cancer risk.

The number of thyroid cancers diagnosed have increased a lot in recent years. The number of diagnoses in women nearly doubled from 2000 to 2008.

Dr. Otis W. Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, said in an interview “Our technology has gotten so good that we are finding cancers today that even 15 years ago would not have been diagnosed,” “We’re finding and treating cancers that would never have killed anyone.”

This increase in cancer rate is due to improved cancer detection and not from a higher number of cancers developing.

If you think about it, you realize that this last statement is correct, since the incidence of thyroid cancer in women over the age of 50 has not increased more than any other age group, even though this group gets mamograms frequently and younger women do not.

Dental X-rays are also unreasonably suspected for the rise in thyroid cancer.

In recent years the emphasis has been in using less radiation and faster film. Many dentists are using panoramic radiographs which give much more information than the full intraoral series of films with less radiation.
Lastly, the implementation of digital radiography in modern dental offices further reduces the level of radiation exposure to the patients when compared to conventional x-ray film.
Dr. Oz warned that people who have more than five X-rays a year have a fourfold greater risk of developing this cancer, but there is no scientific evidence to back up that statement.

So what can we do to make sure that we minimize the risks associated with exposure to xrays in medical or dental offices?

If you need a dentist in west palm beach that is aware of these concerns here are some suggestions:

1 -Ask your doctor the reason why you need those particular x-rays and also the consequences of not getting them.
2 -Request a thyroid shield if one is not automatically placed for you.
3 -Digital x-rays are excellent at significantly reducing radiation as much as 50% compared to conventional x-ray film, so dentists should invest in digital radiography.
4 -Dentists should use good clinical judgement to determine the frequency that dental radiographs should be taken, so that a person with a low incidence of caries and or periodontal problems can have x-rays taken at longer intervals than a person with a high caries rate.

I hope this article provides enough information to ease your fears about dental x-ray exposure in the dental office.

Modern dentistry relies on the use of these diagnostic x-rays to detect problems early, when they can be fixed easily and inexpensively. Refusing to get the necessary x-rays would result in problems that are undetected until the damage is extensive and requires expensive dental work.

Carlos Boudet, DDS, DICOI
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1 Dr. Otis Brawley, Chief medical officer American Cancer Society 2 Dr. Leonard Wartofsky, Chairman, Department of Medicine, Washington Hospital
Center,Professor of Medicine, GeorgetownUniversity School of Medicine, Washington, D.C., USA
3 Researchers Examine Long-term Risks of Exposure to Medical Radiation, Journal of the
American Medical Association, JAMA. 2006;296(6):638-640. doi: 10.1001/jama.296.6.638
4 Radiation Exposure and Thyroid Cancer,JAMA. 2006;296(5):513. doi: 10.1001/jama.296.5.513