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Frequent Dental X-Rays Linked to Increased Risk of Non-Malignant Brain Tumors

By eHealthIQ
Reviewed: May 09, 2013

Everyone knows how important regular dental visits can be for maintaining both oral and general health, but now a new study shows dental x-rays given too frequently may increase the risk for developing a certain type of brain cancer. According to an article published at WebMD, x-rays expose patients to ionizing radiation, which is the most common environmental risk factor for brain tumors known as non-malignant meningiomas.The study – the largest ever to examine the link between frequent dental x-rays and the development of brain tumors – found that men and women who had dental x-rays yearly or more often had a 40% to 90% increased risk of developing the tumors. Several earlier, smaller studies had suggested a link between x-ray radiation exposure and brain tumor formation, but the results were inconclusive overall.Meningiomas are the most commonly diagnosed type of brain tumor in the United States’ adult population, and although most are not malignant, they can grow to become quite large, causing frequent headaches, loss of hearing or vision, memory loss and seizures.The current study evaluated roughly 1,400 men and women between 20 and 79 years of age who were diagnosed with meningioma between 2006 and 2011. After gathering dental histories from the patients, the researchers compared those histories with similar men and women who did not have brain tumors, they found that lifetime exposure to dental x-rays – both bitewing and panoramic – was significantly associated with an elevated risk for meningioma. They also found that risk was especially higher in men and women who had received panoramic x-rays when they were under 10 years of age.In a written response to the study, which was published in the April 10th edition of Cancer, the journal of the American Cancer Association, the American Dental Association said it has consistently directed its members to perform dental x-rays only on an as-needed basis. The ADA also recommended the use of protective aprons or other coverings to minimize a patient’s exposure to radiation, as well as fast film speeds or newer digital x-rays. The article added that the ADA recommends dental x-rays be performed every two to three years for adults, and every one to two years for children, whose teeth and jaws are still growing and who are more likely to develop cavities.Source: WebMD



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