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Study: Exposure to low-dose radiation via hospital scans and extended flights linked to increased cancer risk

Medical imaging

(NaturalNews) High-capacity genetic testing has discovered increases in the risk of cancer as a result of radiation from long-haul flights and hospital scans.

The Risk, Stem Cells, and Tissue Kinetics – Ionizing Radiation (RISK-IR) project, which is funded by the EU, is looking into how low-dose radiation affects stem cells. They found cellular abnormalities that were correlated with higher rates of cancer later in life after tracking thousands of adults who were exposed to low doses of radiation in their childhood years.

Project leader Dr. Simon Bouffler of Public Health England pointed out that the link establishes correlation rather than cause. He said: 'We are seeing that doses as low as those delivered by some CT (X-ray) scans can already change the way in which cells behave. The big challenge is tying down the exact link between these changes and cancer."

Although it has long been believed that ionizing radiation is not particularly risky when administered in the low doses one might find in a typical dental scan or a long-haul flight, new technology that can keep tabs on cellular activity in greater detail paints a different picture.

Dr. Jan Christian Kaiser of Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen in Germany, which is part of the 20 European research centers participating in the EpiRadBio project, said that ionizing radiation damages DNA and leads to mutations, but it is still not known precisely how such mutations ultimately turn into cancer.

As part of the project, Dr. Kaiser and his colleagues screened thyroid cancer samples taken from more than 100 Ukrainians who were exposed to fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear accident. These people actually had small changes in their genome, which probably would not have even been detected with older techniques.

In fact, many of these individuals had multiple copies of a gene known as CLIP2 within their cells. This could eventually be used to develop a test for radiation-induced cancer that can instantly discern which children were exposed in the aftermath of a nuclear accident and prioritize where resources are directed.

The new techniques also enable scientists to look into parts of the human genome that were previously considered to be useless. Professor Michael Atkinson of Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen said: "We are starting to grasp that vast portions of the human genome which were previously thought to be inactive can completely modify the biological reactions taking place inside our cells."

This seems to back up findings published in the Archives of Internal Medicine that showed that CT scans cause at least 14,500 deaths and 29,000 cases of cancer in the U.S. every year.

A separate study that was presented at a meeting of the Radiological Society of North America showed that low-dose radiation from yearly mammograms significantly raised the risk of breast cancer in women who had a genetic predisposition to breast cancer.

Minimizing your radiation risk

People who are concerned about the harmful effects of low-dose radiation can take several steps to mitigate the risk. First of all, avoiding unnecessary medical testing is one way to reduce exposure. Be sure to look into alternatives if your doctor orders a CT scan, for example, and only agree if it is absolutely crucial. Hold onto your test results to avoid repeating tests needlessly. You should also try to limit the number of long-haul flights you take that use flight paths that go across the Earth's poles.

Two sea-based nutrients have shown a lot of promise in protecting people from radiation. Studies show that spirulina can protect the body against harmful radiation and even heal damage caused by radiation. Chlorella is another powerful superfood that can bind to radioactive particles and flush them out of a person's body and, like spirulina, it has a protective effect against radiation.

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