Low-dose radiation from medical and dental x-rays could cause heart disease, a new study suggests.
Researchers from Imperial College London say they started researching a possible connection after numerous studies had shown that workers exposed to long-term doses of radiation, such as in the nuclear industry, had far higher levels of heart disease.
From this, the research team have drawn a mathematical model to suggest that people who have medical and dental x-rays could face similar risks. Radiation kills monocytes, which mop up a protein called MCP-1. High levels of the protein are thought to cause inflammation that, in turn, triggers cardiovascular disease.
Research team leader Dr Mark Little says the model suggests that risks from x-rays may have been "substantially underestimated".
(Source: PLOS Computational Biology, 2009; 5: e1000539).