We all know that radiation exposure may increase the risk of getting cancer. How much radiation are we getting when we get an x-ray or a CT scan?
In the United States, the amount of radiation the average person is exposed to has doubled, because of increased use of x-rays and CT scans. Medical imaging studies have rapidly increased in recent years, and 68 million CT scans are now performed a year in this country (in 1980 only 3 million were performed). Ten percent of the CT scans are performed on children.
CT scans account for half of the radiation dose that the public receives, and are thought to be the cause of .4% of current cancers in the United States. For every 10,000 CT scans performed, one case of leukemia and one brain tumor would be expected to occur due to the radiation exposure.
Here is the dosage of radiation we receive from some common imaging tests:
Dental x-rays: 1.5 millirems
Chest x-ray: 10 millirems
Abdominal x-ray: 60 millirems
Mammogram: 72 millirems
CT scan head: 200 millirems
CT scan chest: 700 millirems