More and more medical professionals and researchers are speaking out about the connection between routine radiation therapy being attributed to new cancers and loss of life each year. For many years it has been known that radiation exposure causes cancer. As more and more statistics become available, it seems that the number of “unnecessary” scans is monumental. Using the American Cancer Society statistics (on page 4), the total number of new cancers in 2012 was 1,638,910 and using the 2% estimate (see links) that works out to 32,778 cancers attributable to medical diagnostic radiation. This is quite alarming.
Negative Affects of Radiation Therapy
Below is a list of suggestions which may help reduce negative affects of radiation treatment by supporting your immune system. Phytochemicals fight the damaging free radicals in our bodies from various sources, including radiation. Remember antioxidants are in the colourful red (peppers and tomatoes), purple (blackberries and grapes), yellow (lemons and peppers) fruits and vegetables.
Who is affected
Data indicates the two most vulnerable age groups in our population are the very young and the old. The incidence of young children having other cancers as adults is also well-known. Of course, when a disease is life threatening there is little choice but parents are hopefully warned to avoid unnecessary radiation.
The most vulnerable age group is the "aged" whose immune systems over time have been compromised just by life's wear and tear and possibly an accumulation of radiation over the years. Almost 70% of new cancers are in the 50 year plus age bracket due to our aging population. Half of all new cancers are lung cancer.
"However, if it is true that about one-third of all CT scans are not justified by medical need, and it appears to be likely, 35 perhaps 20 million adults and, crucially, more than 1 million children per year in the United States are being irradiated unnecessarily"
Quote from The New England Journal of Medicine (see Links)
Why are we affected by radiation?
or How does this happen
Simply: Radiation kills cancer cells but at the same time can damage your body's (good) DNA. Naturally or artificially changing (damaging) DNA by any means may cause mutations (unrepaired DNA) ~ which may affect the immune system and cause cancer and other diseases. The cancer statistics of breast cancer deaths attributed to metastasized lung cancer (bone & brain), seems unimaginable as is the fact that lung cancer is leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide.
What You Can Do
I believe it is important before breast (or other) cancer surgery, radiation and treatment to be fully aware of all your options and have access to the latest recommended medical information. Because of differing stages and types of cancer and varying statistical "risk” for recurrence, extra consideration must be given to the possible connection between metastasized or secondary primary cancers (especially lung) occurring after weeks of daily radiation treatment.
Many physicians and specialists are extremely busy - but do not hesitate to ask of their awareness of the high incidence of (primarily) lung cancer after breast cancer (and other) radiation treatment and specifically recommendations for your own treatment. Early detection of lung cancer in particular is imperative because of the often fast growing nature of this disease.
This simply means that you have to be pro-active in your own and your loved ones health care.
Questions for your doctor / oncologist
- Do I need to have the scan or x-ray
- Is it routine or mandatory
- If mandatory, can the scan (s) be less often
- Are there any other treatment, investigative options such as MRI or ultrasound
Suggestions to Reduce the affect of Radiation
Adding the following to your diet and lifestyle before a scan may help reduce effects of radiation treatment by strengthening your immune system :
- antioxidants - fight free radicals and should include Vitamins C and E, carrots (beta carotene) and other bright coloured vegetables and fruits such as kiwi, blueberries red peppers and broccoli. Try for a daily serving of each.
- Diet - eat nutritious (preferably raw) carrots, broccoli, kale or cabbage daily
- Supplements - such as garlic and curcumin (Curcumin can thin blood - check with your physician)
- No alcohol or smoking
- Drink lots of water instead of coffee to flush your system after the scan
- Add green tea to your daily diet - a good permanent habit
- Add a glass of (skim) milk to your daily diet (plus I add protein plant-based powder)
- Try and increase your exercise level by remaining active each day
- Note: always try for the natural foods and supplements over synthetic as the benefits seem to be greater
This is merely scratching the surface of this complicated and technical subject. Unfortunately, it can be extremely difficult sometimes to know who to trust and which sources have biases (with reasons from job security to research funding sources). What is the significance and connection between the cancer and the cure? This is a most difficult subject when a cancer patient is feeling vulnerable; caution and balance are recommended and the #1 question is “do I really need this?” I believe this sobering question is absolutely critical especially for our young children. Until there is more definitive research information on this daunting subject – care and attention is recommended. And as always, in closing, remember ...
The very best treatment for cancer is prevention ~ Liz
Links & References
- The New England Journal of Medicine study on CT Scans and cancer risks and a critical closing quote : "However, if it is true that about one-third of all CT scans are not justified by medical need, and it appears to be likely,35 perhaps 20 million adults and, crucially, more than 1 million children per year in the United States are being irradiated unnecessarily"
- American Cancer Society - radiation may cause cancer in humans
- Children are more susceptible to cancer from radiation
- Childhood cancer survivor study
- Yale Medical on second cancers resulting from radiation and chemotherapy treatment
- Simple explanation of how radiation kills cancer and normal cells by American Cancer Society
- Canadian Cancer Statistics for 2012
- "There are estimates that over two percent of all cancers in the U.S. are the result of too many X-ray procedures with CT scans being the leading radiologic cause of harmful medical radiation."
- Using American Cancer Society statistics (on page 4) of a total of new cancers in 2012 of 1,638,910 and the preceeding 2% that works out to 32,778 cancers attributable to medical diagnostic radiation. This refers to introduction paragraph.
- Breast cancer risk increases for women with certain genes
- Safer radiation "position" study for breast cancer
- Is MRI a tool for investigating possible cancer ? Yes for lung cancer it was considered inappropriate but this report ... shows success especially with breast, and prostate and lung cancers
- Radiation sickness occurs from over exposure to radiation and may be gradual or “If a person vomits less than an hour after being exposed, that usually means the radiation dose received is very high and death may be expected
- There appears to be a growing concern from medical professionals of a direct link between tens of thousands of new cancers possibly related to CT scans and other X-rays. Protect your DNA from radiation
- Why We Should Think Twice About Getting a CT Scan - Huffington Post
- Cancer from radiation from first atom bomb
- What does mutagenesis mean
- Acute Radiation syndrome from Wikipedia with signs, symptoms and diagnosis
- 65 pages of Cancer Facts and Figures for 2012 from the American Cancer Society
- How to boost your immune system from Harvard
- "Strengthen your Immune System" Readers Digest, 2002
- Lung cancer now passes breast cancer in woman as leading cause of cancer deaths in Australia (February, 2013)