By Amy Taylor on April 11, 2012
Having regular dental x-rays increases the risk of developing non malignant tumours in the brain, reported a new study.
X-Rays and Brain Tumours
Researchers from the Yale University School of Medicine and Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that the risk of meningioma (non malignant type of brain tumour) increases by 2 or 3 times in people who regularly undergo dental X-rays. Nonetheless, the risk factors are very low and the researchers said there’s nothing wrong to worry about. Their findings were recently published in the journal Cancer.
The lead author Elizabeth Claus and his co-researchers studied the link between dental X-rays and the development of said tumour. They studied 1,433 patients (ages 20 to 79) who were diagnosed of meningioma and 1,350 individuals who have same characteristics but were not diagnosed with the disease. They found out that those with meningioma were twice more likely as those in the control group to report having had dental X-ray. Furthermore, those who receive X-rays on an annual basis were 1.4 to 1.9 times more likely to develop meningioma.
Dental X-ray is the most common form of radiation therapy that even healthy individuals normally go through. The reason for the increased risk, according to the researchers, is in the form of ionising radiation. Previous studies have shown that a low dose of ionising radiation promotes tumour growth. According to the National Radiological Protection Board, the amount of exposure to X-ray is equivalent to natural background radiation. They also added that the risk of cancer developed from this tumour is less than one in a million.
In the UK, 25% of brain tumour cases are mostly linked to meningiomas. Basically, the tumour doesn’t grow in brain but on the membranous layers that surround the brain called the meninges. According to the American Brain Tumour Association, meningiomas are the most common type of brain tumours which account for 1/3 of all tumour cases in the world. Generally, this tumour is benign but in rare cases, it’s malignant. Most meningiomas are asymptomatic, meaning no symptoms are experienced by the patient all through his life. There’s no treatment necessary other than periodic observation. Furthermore, it can be removed. But even if the tumour hasn’t been completely removed, it can be controlled. But when the tumour becomes malignant, it becomes very hard, almost impossible to cure.