|MadSci Network: Medicine|
The risks associated with medical x-ray examinations are generally extremely low, giving only a very slight (if any) increase in the probability of cancer occurring many years later. The risk of genetic effects (mutations) from medical X-ray examinations appears to be even lower than the risk of cancer.
The risk of cancer from radiation exposure does depends on the age at irradiation, and children aged 0 to 5 years may have a risk 2 to 3 times greater than adults.
Our estimates of how the risk of radiation-induced cancer depends on the age-at-irradiation comes mostly from studies of the survivors of the Hiroshima-Nagasaki atomic bombs. However, those Japanese children received doses of radiation that were thousands of times greater than those you receive in medical x-ray examinations.
Despite how low we think the risks from medical x-ray examinations are, it still follows that such examinations should also be done when there is a good medical reason to do them (for example, to correctly diagnosis serious illness or injuries).
The U.K. National Radiation Protection Board has a website that deals with
these issues in more detail:
Questions about the medical use of radiation
The Health Physics website at the University of Michigan is another good on-
The Radiation and Health Physics Page
Medical College of Wisconsin
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