X-Rays and Children: Know the Limits

The Huffington Post—June 24, 2010

By Helene Pavlov, MD, FACR, Radiologist-in-Chief at Hospital for Special Surgery

The President's Cancer Panel published a 240-page report saying that the proportion of cancer cases caused by environmental exposures has been "grossly underestimated." The report, which is being widely criticized, warns of "grievous harm" from chemicals and other hazards, and cites "a growing body of evidence linking environmental exposures to cancer." It specifically addresses children and says that they are especially vulnerable.

Recommendations include urging from the government to strengthen research and regulation, and advising individuals on ways to limit exposure to potential threats like pesticides, industrial chemicals, medical X-rays, vehicle exhaust, plastic food containers, too much sun and other such dangers.

We must carefully analyze this information and the recommendations. Scare tactics without recourse are not helpful; warnings about potential dangers, however, are necessary for increased awareness and appropriate precaution and an incentive to look for and find solutions and alternatives.

Ideally, if you could, you would pick parents with good genes and lifestyles appropriate for the 21st century. Barring that possibility, prudent lifestyle is in order. Eat healthy and avoid unnecessary risk. Less salt, less sugar, less processed foods, less sun, less unnecessary medical intervention and procedures including X-rays. One key word here is "less," not the elimination. You need the sun to prevent disease and bone fractures and you need X-rays to diagnose a clinically suspected "problem."

Read the full story at huffingtonpost.com.

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