Researchers have detected a "modest but not negligible" risk of cancer mortality from a single full-body computed tomography scan, but the risk compounds with yearly elective scans, according to a study in the journal Radiology. The increasingly popular, self-referred and controversial procedure is performed on seemingly healthy people to detect diseases such as colon or lung cancer and coronary artery disease. The researchers determined that the radiation dose from a full-body CT scan is comparable to the doses received by some of the atomic-bomb survivors at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They estimated the cancer mortality risk by comparing A-bomb cancer mortality data with the radiation dose from a full-body scan. The dose from a single scan is slightly lower than the mean dose experienced by groups of A-bomb survivors, who experienced significant increases in cancer risk, according to the study. The study considered risk only for asymptomatic adults. The risk-benefit changes dramatically for adults who are referred for CT exams for medical purposes, the researchers said. -- by Cinda Becker
Full-body scans carry cancer risk: study
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