(NaturalNews) A computed tomography (CT) scan can detect calcified plaque in coronary arteries. And because this calcium-laced plaque is believed to be associated with the presence of heart disease, CT scans are being widely advertised and hyped at many medical centers. Mostly, the scans are aimed at the healthy as a new must-have "preventive" test. Ads push the message that if the test shows you don't have heart disease, the worried well can breathe a sigh of relief and if calcified plaques do show up, they can begin medical treatment.
At first glance, that might make sense. After all, the CT heart scan is promoted as a totally non-painful, non-invasive, not terribly expensive test that takes only minutes in order to "see" into your body and look for heart disease. But there's one huge downside medical marketers fail to talk about: the test bombards the body with radiation. And a new study of the test's radiation risk suggests coronary CT scans trigger cancer.
The research, just published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, reveals there are huge differences in both scanner models and also in the techniques used to perform the coronary scan. That means the radiation dose can vary from test to test with one person receiving ten times the radiation another receives. What's most worrisome is that the body's vital organs and tissues are estimated to receive measurable radiation doses from CT scans. Specifically, the study authors point out that the breasts, lungs, thyroid, esophagus, bone surfaces and adrenal glands are exposed to potentially cancer-causing radiation from the heart test.
Kwang Pyo Kim, Ph.D., formerly of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, and now with Kyung Hee University in the Republic of Korea, explained in a statement to the media that because of the widely varying dose of radiation from different scanners, his research team also found a wide variation in estimated radiation-induced cancer risk. "Assuming screening every five years from the age of 45 to 75 years for men and 55 to 75 years for women, the estimated excess lifetime cancer risk using the median dose of 2.3 millisieverts was 42 cases per 100,000 men (range, 14 to 200 cases) and 62 cases per 100,000 women (range, 21 to 300 cases)," the authors wrote in the Archives of Internal Medicine article.
"Computed tomography (CT) has been proposed as a tool for routine screening for coronary artery calcification in asymptomatic individuals as part of a comprehensive risk assessment," the researchers stated. "However, the potential risks of screening, including the risk of radiation-induced cancer, have to be considered along with the potential benefits."
Incredibly, according to background material included in the new study, there are currently no estimates of the benefits of CT screening for coronary artery calcification. That means researchers don't even know what, if any, real advantages there are to having the test. But it is widely known, according the American Cancer Society (ACS), that ionizing radiation is a scientifically proven cancer-causing agent in human beings. In fact, as Natural News reported earlier this year (http://www.naturalnews.com/025535.html), other researchers have sounded the alarm that CT scans could promote cancer because of excess radiation exposure.