Junk Science Week: CT scans are the real risk, not plastics

The Institute of Medicine in the U.S. recently released its comprehensive review of environmental causes and risk factors for breast cancer.

This should be news: The report, Environmental Causes of Breast Cancer and Radiation From Medical Imaging, published in this week’s Archives of Internal Medicine, found that “none of the consumer products (i.e. bisphenol A, phthalates), industrial chemicals (i.e. benzene, ethylene oxide), or pesticides (i.e. DDT/DDE) considered could be conclusively linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.” Instead, what the institute found was an association between breast cancer and ionizing radiation, as well as a link between breast cancer and postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Such findings are consistent with previous studies. And, after concluding that a number of lifestyle factors (such as limiting alcohol consumption and maintaining a healthy weight) “may modestly reduce a woman’s risk of breast cancer,” the Archives article discusses the disconcerting role that overuse of CT scans plays in the rate of breast cancer. The institute has estimated that “2,800 future breast cancers would result from one year of medical radiation exposure among the entire U.S. female population, with two-thirds of those cases resulting from CT radiation exposures.”

Financial Post

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4 responses to “Junk Science Week: CT scans are the real risk, not plastics

  1. “The institute has estimated that “2,800 future breast cancers would result from one year of medical radiation exposure among the entire U.S. female population, with two-thirds of those cases resulting from CT radiation exposures.”

    Among the 160,000,000 women in the U.S.

    Two words for The Institute of Medicine: shut up.

  2. Linking does not equal causation. I can associate drinking water with all cancers.

  3. Ben of Houston

    Ionizing radiation has been shown to cause cancer at high doses. This is a CT scan, not a dental X-Ray. At about 5 mSv per scan, it’s nothing to sneeze at. The lowest dose clearly linked to cancer is 100 mSv, while it is an order of magnitude lower. It is reasonable to avoid a CT scan if not necessary. However this is a minor risk if it is to avoid a potentially life threatening situation, such as internal bleeding. So, while I believe the concerns are overblown, it should be dismissed out of hand.

    (Values from the XKCD radiaition chart)

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