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Avoid CT Scans If At All Possible

Also in this month's issue of Popular Science there is a great graphic on the danger of CT scans. Most people don't know that CT scans emit far more radiation than conventional X-rays -- a CT scan of the chest delivers 100 times the radiation of a conventional chest X-ray. If you aren't familiar with some of the other concerns please read a previous article on CT scans that I posted. Sometimes you won't have a choice and you will need to obtain a CT scan due to your condition, but typically an MRI scan can easily be substituted for a CT and it has far less dangerous side effects.

Some Interesting Statistics on CT Scans

  • 1,300 Radiation dose, in millirems (mrem), from a single full-body computed tomography (CT) scan
  • 1.5 Miles Distance you'd need to have been from the Hiroshima atomic explosion to receive an equivalent dose
  • 29 Radiation dose, in mrem, from smoking a pack of cigarettes
  • .08% Increase in risk of death from cancer after a full-body CT scan
  • 3.75% Increase in risk of death from cancer if you receive a full-body CT scan annually starting at age 25
  • 300 Average annual radiation dose from natural sources, in mrem, per person in the U.S.
  • 1 Average annual radiation dose, in mrem, from eating one or two bananas a week
  • 57 MILLION Number of full-body CT scans performed in 2003
  • $16 BILLION Estimated annual cost of unnecessary diagnostic imaging
  • 7 Percentage of patients informed of the risks of their CT scans

Popular Science November 2004

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