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Computed tomography--an increasing source of radiation exposure.

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The New England journal of medicine

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      Solid cancer incidence in atomic bomb survivors: 1958-1998.

      This is the second general report on radiation effects on the incidence of solid cancers (cancers other than malignancies of the blood or blood-forming organs) among members of the Life Span Study (LSS) cohort of Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bomb survivors. The analyses were based on 17,448 first primary cancers (including non-melanoma skin cancer) diagnosed from 1958 through 1998 among 105,427 cohort members with individual dose estimates who were alive and not known to have had cancer prior to 1958. Radiation-associated relative risks and excess rates were considered for all solid cancers as a group, for 19 specific cancer sites or groups of sites, and for five histology groups. Poisson regression methods were used to investigate the magnitude of the radiation-associated risks, the shape of the dose response, how these risks vary with gender, age at exposure, and attained age, and the evidence for inter-site variation in the levels and patterns of the excess risk. For all solid cancers as a group, it was estimated that about 850 (about 11%) of the cases among cohort members with colon doses in excess of 0.005 Gy were associated with atomic bomb radiation exposure. The data were consistent with a linear dose response over the 0- to 2-Gy range, while there was some flattening of the dose response at higher doses. Furthermore, there is a statistically significant dose response when analyses were limited to cohort members with doses of 0.15 Gy or less. The excess risks for all solid cancers as a group and many individual sites exhibit significant variation with gender, attained age, and age at exposure. It was estimated that, at age 70 after exposure at age 30, solid cancer rates increase by about 35% per Gy (90% CI 28%; 43%) for men and 58% per Gy (43%; 69%) for women. For all solid cancers as a group, the excess relative risk (ERR per Gy) decreases by about 17% per decade increase in age at exposure (90% CI 7%; 25%) after allowing for attained-age effects, while the ERR decreased in proportion to attained age to the power 1.65 (90% CI 2.1; 1.2) after allowing for age at exposure. Despite the decline in the ERR with attained age, excess absolute rates appeared to increase throughout the study period, providing further evidence that radiation-associated increases in cancer rates persist throughout life regardless of age at exposure. For all solid cancers as a group, women had somewhat higher excess absolute rates than men (F:M ratio 1.4; 90% CI 1.1; 1.8), but this difference disappears when the analysis was restricted to non-gender-specific cancers. Significant radiation-associated increases in risk were seen for most sites, including oral cavity, esophagus, stomach, colon, liver, lung, non-melanoma skin, breast, ovary, bladder, nervous system and thyroid. Although there was no indication of a statistically significant dose response for cancers of the pancreas, prostate and kidney, the excess relative risks for these sites were also consistent with that for all solid cancers as a group. Dose-response estimates for cancers of the rectum, gallbladder and uterus were not statistically significant, and there were suggestions that the risks for these sites may be lower than those for all solid cancers combined. However, there was emerging evidence from the present data that exposure as a child may increase risks of cancer of the body of the uterus. Elevated risks were seen for all of the five broadly classified histological groups considered, including squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, other epithelial cancers, sarcomas and other non-epithelial cancers. Although the data were limited, there was a significant radiation-associated increase in the risk of cancer occurring in adolescence and young adulthood. In view of the persisting increase in solid cancer risks, the LSS should continue to provide important new information on radiation exposure and solid cancer risks for at least another 15 to 20 years.
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        Cancer risks attributable to low doses of ionizing radiation: assessing what we really know.

        High doses of ionizing radiation clearly produce deleterious consequences in humans, including, but not exclusively, cancer induction. At very low radiation doses the situation is much less clear, but the risks of low-dose radiation are of societal importance in relation to issues as varied as screening tests for cancer, the future of nuclear power, occupational radiation exposure, frequent-flyer risks, manned space exploration, and radiological terrorism. We review the difficulties involved in quantifying the risks of low-dose radiation and address two specific questions. First, what is the lowest dose of x- or gamma-radiation for which good evidence exists of increased cancer risks in humans? The epidemiological data suggest that it is approximately 10-50 mSv for an acute exposure and approximately 50-100 mSv for a protracted exposure. Second, what is the most appropriate way to extrapolate such cancer risk estimates to still lower doses? Given that it is supported by experimentally grounded, quantifiable, biophysical arguments, a linear extrapolation of cancer risks from intermediate to very low doses currently appears to be the most appropriate methodology. This linearity assumption is not necessarily the most conservative approach, and it is likely that it will result in an underestimate of some radiation-induced cancer risks and an overestimate of others.
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          Risk of cancer from diagnostic X-rays: estimates for the UK and 14 other countries.

          Diagnostic X-rays are the largest man-made source of radiation exposure to the general population, contributing about 14% of the total annual exposure worldwide from all sources. Although diagnostic X-rays provide great benefits, that their use involves some small risk of developing cancer is generally accepted. Our aim was to estimate the extent of this risk on the basis of the annual number of diagnostic X-rays undertaken in the UK and in 14 other developed countries. We combined data on the frequency of diagnostic X-ray use, estimated radiation doses from X-rays to individual body organs, and risk models, based mainly on the Japanese atomic bomb survivors, with population-based cancer incidence rates and mortality rates for all causes of death, using life table methods. Our results indicate that in the UK about 0.6% of the cumulative risk of cancer to age 75 years could be attributable to diagnostic X-rays. This percentage is equivalent to about 700 cases of cancer per year. In 13 other developed countries, estimates of the attributable risk ranged from 0.6% to 1.8%, whereas in Japan, which had the highest estimated annual exposure frequency in the world, it was more than 3%. We provide detailed estimates of the cancer risk from diagnostic X-rays. The calculations involved a number of assumptions and so are inevitably subject to considerable uncertainty. The possibility that we have overestimated the risks cannot be ruled out, but that we have underestimated them substantially seems unlikely.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ] Center for Radiological Research, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY 10032, USA. djb3@columbia.edu
            Journal
            N. Engl. J. Med.
            The New England journal of medicine
            1533-4406
            0028-4793
            Nov 29 2007
            : 357
            : 22
            357/22/2277 10.1056/NEJMra072149 18046031

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