Vitals – Dental X-rays can double brain tumor risk, study finds

CNS Germinoma, MRI saggital with contrast. Als...

CNS Germinoma, MRI saggital with contrast. Also see 50px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vitals – Dental X-rays can double brain tumor risk, study finds.

In a bizarre twist, the researchers who discovered the risk increase back pedaled even as they announced their findings.  They talked about “recall bias” of patients who do have tumors (they are more likely to have thought back to all those dental x-rays and thought…mmmm….I wonder?)and don’t want people to panic.

They also went out of their way to say that this particular brain cancer isn’t actually that bad.  (Compared to what?  A puppy?  Or a grizzly bear?)

Here’s a tip from the rest of us.  If you don’t want us to panic, don’t tell us that dental x-rays double our risk of brain cancer.

But of course they do.  Radiation increases cancer risk.  All radiation.  So when you get your head irradiated every year, your chances of getting cancer go from .000001 to .00001 percent.  It’s still small, but it’s significant over time.


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  1. #1 by Life With The Top Down on April 11, 2012 - 5:40 am

    Considering my mouth is the equivalent to a Dental Disneyland, this news just scared the crap out of me!

    • #2 by Christopher Maloney, Naturopathic Doctor on April 13, 2012 - 6:41 am

      Don’t be. Just be concerned about getting the x-rays redone eight times (which happened to me at Harvard Dental Care in Cambridge). The risks are still minute. Better chance of winning the lottery.

  2. #3 by Shining Smiles on May 10, 2012 - 5:15 am

    Hmmm. Are you stating that we should not get xrays done at our checkups? I think its very important, as a dentist.

    • #4 by Christopher Maloney, Naturopathic Doctor on May 10, 2012 - 8:43 am

      Ok, first, this is a humor site, not a recommendation site. Second, I’m just repeating the news on a study that was pretty terrifying. Third, I didn’t say anything about getting xrays done or not done.

      What I pointed out is that when you tell people that x-rays can double the risk of brain cancer (they said it, I didn’t) then backpedal by saying your own study isn’t true or is mistaken, patients end up being shaken and confused. I finished by pointing out that any radiation exposure is likely to slightly increase one’s risks, but that the risk from a dental x-ray is really small.

      I recommend you track down the original publishers of the study (which got national newspaper coverage) and beat them with wet floss until they promise to think before they publish.

  3. #5 by Valley Dental Artists on June 25, 2012 - 6:54 pm

    He’s right. The chances of getting brain cancer from dental X-rays are extremely minute. Also, we should consider ourselves lucky now that dental X-rays are performed in lower doses. But to be on the safe side, I am going to plan on continuing to brush my teeth at least twice a day, floss once a day, and use mouthwash at least once or twice a day. This way there will be less X-rays. Hope this helps!

  4. #6 by McPherson Dental Care on September 13, 2012 - 9:53 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree with Valley Dental Artists! X-rays are performed in low doses. And YES, maintaining good oral hygiene is a MUST!!

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