Cancer Risks of Dental Radiation

Important medical news from Chicago. World-wire is reporting that the well-documented
evidence on the dangers of premenopausal mammography are persuasive,
although belatedly recognized. In striking contrast, the evidence on
the dangers of routine and highly profitable dental radiation,
particularly in children, are still virtually unrecognized, warns the
Cancer Prevention Coalition.

Dr. Samuel Epstein

However, these concerns are not new, says Samuel S. Epstein, M.D.,
Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition. He points to a 2001
report by Dr. John Gofman, a leading international authority on the
dangers of radiation, which published well-documented evidence on the
cancer risks of “low dose medical X-rays,” especially to children.

A July 2006 publication by Dr. Ruth Kleinerman in Pediatric Oncology,
“Cancer Risks Following Diagnostic and Therapeutic Radiation
Exposure in Children,” warned that the most radiosensitive organ in
children is the thyroid gland.

This report also noted that “Although thyroid cancer is rare, 6
other large studies had previously confirmed its relationship with
prior radiation for treatment of enlarged tonsils or other head, face,
or neck concerns.”

Dr. Epstein cites a report in the June 2010 MailOnline newspaper
published in the U.K., which warned that “Ten dental x-rays raise
cancer risks – by at least ten times.” This article cautioned that
“X-rays should not be given at checkups or when registering new
patients, despite these practices being common in many dental

The MailOnline report also cited a 2010 collaborative study between
the U.K. National Health Service and the universities of Brighton and
Sussex which reported that “multiple exposures to dental X-rays may
be associated with increased risks of developing thyroid cancer –
particularly in children and adolescents.”

The report further noted that these findings were consistent with
previous warnings of increased risks of thyroid cancer in dentists and
dental assistants.

Dr. Epstein finds further evidence in a November 22, 2010 New York
Times article, “Radiation Worries for Children in Dentists’
Chairs,” which warned against risks of radiation from a new scanning
device, known as a cone-beam CT scanner.

Cone-beam CT scanners are continually generating x-ray images, while
rotating around the patient. They emit much higher levels of radiation
than do conventional dental x-rays.

“Not surprisingly,” says Dr. Epstein, “the incidence of thyroid
cancer has escalated by 168% since 1975. The past and continuing
practice of routine dental radiation, especially in children, is
flagrant malpractice, if not criminal.”

Dr. Epstein quotes Ralph Nader, who urged at 1979 hearings on the
Corporate Criminal Liability Act by the Crime Sub-Committee of the
House Judiciary Committee, “Jail for crime in the streets, but bail
for crime in the suites.”

Samuel S. Epstein, M.D. is professor emeritus of Environmental and
Occupational Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago School
of Public Health; Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition; and
former President of the Rachel Carson Trust. His awards include the
1998 Right Livelihood Award and the 2005 Albert Schweitzer Golden
Grand Medal for International Contributions to Cancer Prevention. He
is the author of over 270 scientific articles and 20 books on the
causes and prevention of cancer, including the groundbreaking The
Politics of Cancer (1979, Doubleday Books), Healthy Beauty (2010,
BenBella Books) and National Cancer Institute And American Cancer
Society: Criminal Indifference to Cancer Prevention and Conflicts of
Interest (2011, Xlibris Publishing).