Dental X-rays And Brain Tumors

April 10, 2012 by staff 

Dental X-rays And Brain Tumors, Exposure to ionizing radiation — the kind found in X-rays — is the biggest known environmental risk factor for largely non-malignant meningioma brain tumors. Routine dental X-rays are among the most common sources of radiation for most healthy people in the U.S.

The new study suggests that performing frequent X-rays may expose patients to unnecessary risk.

“These findings should not prevent anyone from going to the dentist,” says lead researcher and neurosurgeon Elizabeth B. Claus, MD, PhD, of Yale University School of Medicine and Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “But it appears that a large percentage of patients receive annual X-rays instead of every two to three years, which is the recommendation for healthy adults.”

While the vast majority of meningiomas are non-malignant, they often grow to be very large and can cause a wide range of potentially serious symptoms, including vision and hearing loss, frequent headaches, memory loss, and even seizures.

They are the most frequently diagnosed brain tumors among adults in the United States, accounting for about a third of all primary brain and central nervous system tumors.

Several small studies have suggested a link between cumulative dental X-ray exposures and meningiomas, but the findings were inconclusive.

In the newly published study — the largest ever to examine the question — people who reported having “bitewing” X-rays at least yearly were found to have a 40% to 90% greater risk of meningioma.

The study shows an association but does not prove a cause-effect relationship.

The study included about 1,400 meningioma patients between the ages of 20 and 79 when they were diagnosed between the spring of 2006 and the spring of 2011.

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