Thursday, June 17, 2010

Excess medical radiation growing risk for Americans (?)

The stuff below is conventional rubbish but it is rubbish nonetheless. How else do they explain the very long life of "Lucky" Yamaguchi -- who survived encounters with TWO nuclear blasts? Low-dose ionizing radiation is in fact good for you. Google "hormesis"

We fret about airport scanners, power lines, cellphones, and even microwaves. It’s true that we get too much radiation. But not from those sources — it’s from too many medical tests.

Americans get the most medical radiation in the world, even more than folks in other rich countries, according to several studies reviewed by the Associated Press. The US accounts for half of the most advanced procedures that use radiation, and the average American’s dose has grown sixfold over the last couple of decades.

Too much radiation raises the risk of cancer. That risk is growing because people in everyday situations are getting imaging tests far too often.

Like the New Hampshire teen who was about to get a CT scan to check for kidney stones until radiologist Steven Birnbaum discovered he had already had 14 of these powerful X-rays for previous episodes. Adding up the total dose, “I was horrified’’ at the cancer risk it posed, Birnbaum said.

After his own daughter, Molly, was given too many scans following a car accident, Birnbaum took action: He asked the two hospitals where he works to watch for any patients who had had 10 or more CT scans, or patients under 40 who had had five — clearly dangerous amounts. They found 50 people over a three-year period, including a young woman with 31 abdominal scans.

Of the many ways Americans are overtested and overtreated, imaging is one of the most common and insidious. CT scans — “super X-rays’’ that give fast, extremely detailed images — have soared in use over the last decade, often replacing tests that don’t require radiation, such as ultrasound and MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging.

Radiation is a hidden danger — you don’t feel it when you get it, and any damage usually doesn’t show up for years. Taken individually, tests that use radiation pose little risk. Over time, though, the dose accumulates.

Doctors don’t keep track of radiation given their patients — they order a test, not a dose. Except for mammograms, there are no federal rules on radiation dose. Children and young women, who are most vulnerable to radiation harm, sometimes get too much at busy imaging centers that don’t adjust doses for each patient’s size.

That may soon change. In interviews, US Food and Drug Administration officials described steps in the works, including possibly requiring device makers to print the radiation dose on each X-ray or other image so patients and doctors can see how much was given. The FDA also is pushing industry and doctors to set standard doses for common tests such as CT scans.

“We are considering requirements and guidelines for record-keeping of dose and other technical parameters of the imaging exam,’’ said Sean Boyd, chief of the FDA’s diagnostic devices branch.

A near-term goal: developing a “radiation medical record’’ to track doses from cradle to grave.

The best guess at how much radiation is risky is based on the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident and studies of Japanese atomic bomb survivors who had excess cancer risk after exposures of 50 to 150 millisieverts of radiation.

A chest or abdominal CT scan involves 10 to 20 millisieverts (a measure of dose), versus 0.01 to 0.1 for an ordinary chest X-ray, less than 1 for a mammogram, and as little as 0.005 for a dental X-ray. Natural radiation from the sun and soil accounts for about 2 millisieverts a year. A study last year estimated that 4 million Americans get more than 20 millisieverts a year from medical imaging. Two percent of people in the study had high exposure — 20 to 50 millisieverts.


Health fanatic dies of her fanaticism

No sympathy for such a stupid egotist from me, I am afraid. Though the quacks involved could do with prosecution for holding out false hope

A NURSE has described her "state of shock" upon seeing the distressing condition of a woman who tried to use homeopathy to fight cancer.

In an inquest at the Perth Coroner’s Court, registered nurse and family friend Deborah Combes said she believed Penelope Dingle was dying after being called to assist the ailing woman in October 2003. Mrs Dingle, who attempted to treat her colorectal cancer with homeopathy and natural remedies after being diagnosed in 2003, died in August 2005.

The Coroner's Court was told Ms Combes was called by one of Mrs Dingle’s sisters to help Mrs Dingle shortly before she was admitted to hospital for emergency surgery. Ms Combes told the court Mrs Dingle was in an emaciated state, and was sweaty and breathless with her eyes sunken. She said Mrs Dingle was “writhing in pain” and was “screaming and very frightened”.

She said Mrs Dingle’s husband, prominent Perth toxicologist Peter Dingle, told her she had not seen a doctor “for months” and was instead relying on the directions of homeopath Francine Scrayen.

Ms Combes said Mrs Dingle was “completely obsessed” with the homeopathic regime and initially refused to take pain relief. “I couldn’t understand why someone would go through so much pain and agony,” Ms Combes said. “She would hold her abdomen like a pregnant woman does. “She was in pain - she was ill.

“(But) it was extremely difficult to reason with Pen (so as) not to make a mistake in the complex regime.”


No comments: