Dental X-rays associated with risk for brain tumors

The Boston Globe reports, “Frequent dental X-rays are associated with an increased risk of developing the most common, noncancerous brain tumors, according to a new study” published in the Journal Cancer.

This is a finding “that researchers say should serve as a reminder that even dental X-rays may be harmful if ordered too often.”

For the study, “researchers surveyed 1,433 patients who had the brain tumors, called meningiomas, and compared them with 1,350 others who were tumor-free, and asked them about their dental X-ray history.”

“The study found at a general level that people with meningioma were more than twice as likely as people without the brain tumor to have had a bitewing X-ray sometime in their life,” the Washington Post “The Checkup” blog reports.

However, “the exposures to dental X-rays in the study took place in the 1960s, when dental X-rays delivered higher doses of radiation than today’s do.”

In addition, the study “found an association between the less commonly used panorex X-rays, which are taken outside the mouth and deliver a panoramic view of the full set of top and bottom teeth, and meningioma risk.”

“If study participants had panorex exams when they were younger than 10 years old, their risk of meningioma went up 4.9 times,” the CNN “The Chart” blog reports.

“One of these around-the-head X-rays carries about twice as much radiation as four bitewing X-rays.”

Four bitewing x-rays produce “about the same amount of radiation you’re exposed to in a typical day: .005 .millisieverts, according to the American College of Radiology.”

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