People who have regular CT (computed tomography) scans are dramatically increasing their risk of cancer.
Radiologists seem to be unaware of the risks, according to a new study that discovered that some patients had received 70 CT scans in eight years. This is a cumulative radiation dose 21 times greater than that experienced in Hiroshima or Nagasaki when the atom bombs were dropped.
Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston analysed the case reports of 130 patients who had received emergency treatment. Although only a handful had received 70 CT scans, half of the patients had been given 10 or more scans over the eight years, which, cumulatively, is still three times more than the Hiroshima levels.
An earlier study found that CT scans cause up to 2 per cent of all cancers, but the latest research suggests the effect could be far greater in a patient given multiple scans.
(Source: American Journal of Roentgenology, 2009; 192: 887).