Think your regular X-rays at the dentist are no big deal? You might want to think again. A newly published study posits that those yearly dental X-rays cause cancerÂ—a specific type of cancer, in fact: the most common kind of brain tumor, meningioma (a lesion on the membranes of the skull and spinal cordÂ—the same membranes that get irritated during meningitis).
Lead researcher Dr. Elizabeth Brooks Claus expressed concern about how many X-rays people have in their lifetime and how often. “My impression is that people get more dental X-rays more frequently than the American Dental Association says,” Claus told CNN.
Not all experts are lining up in fear to agree with Claus’ findings, however. Perhaps predictably, the head of an organization with a vested interest in the subject, the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, was dismissive of the results. “They found a small risk (from) a pair of bitewings, but not a full mouth series, which is multiple bitewings. That inconsistency is impossible to understand to me,” Reuters reported Lurie as saying.
Still, there’s little argument that any radiation is potentially bad radiation, good intentions or not. And this isn’t the first study to suggest the possibility that regular dental X-rays cause cancer; CNN.com reported concerns about a connection between dental X-rays and thyroid cancer back in September of 2011. But is the increased risk, which is statistically represented by a jump from 15 cases out of 10,000 people to 22 cases, worth avoiding dental X-rays altogether?