lives through its use in medical diagnosis and treatment, but too much
radiation can kill. A significant proportion of the population may be
genetically sensitive to radiation, and therefore much more likely to
get cancer from the low levels used in medical screening tests like
mammography and CT scanning. Researchers have now found the first genes
identified with radiation sensitivity, and are working towards genetic
testing that will tell people if they are at risk. But right now, many
people are playing Radiation Roulette with their health when they have
diagnostic tests – and no one is warning them.
The dangers of exposure
to high levels of all kinds of radiation have long been known –
cancer, birth defects, neurological disorders, severe burns, premature
death. Low levels of radiation, like modern dental or chest x-rays,
have been thought to be safe. But now CT scanners, which use multiple
x-rays, have considerably increased the amount of radiation patients
receive. The use of CT for screening and diagnosis is increasing dramatically.
A single CT scan can be the equivalent of hundreds of chest x-rays;
and two or three can put the patient into the exposure range of Japanese
atomic bomb survivors who had elevated levels of cancer.
looks at the rapid expansion of CT, its benefits, and the danger it
may pose, through the stories of three women: Kyla, a 20-year-old with
thyroid cancer which may have been caused by childhood x-rays; Paula,
a 56-year-old who has life-threatening heart disease caused by medical
radiation; and Jo-Ann, a healthy woman who decided to have a whole-body
CT screening scan – and got a shocking surprise.
to find out whether radiation might have caused her cancer will lead
us through the controversy over x-ray imaging, and the critical public
health issues at stake.
and Directed by
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