Dental x-rays linked to brain tumours

Original story from ABC science  April 10, 2012

People who get regular dental x-rays are more likely to suffer a type of brain tumour, according to new research, suggesting that yearly exams may not be best for most patients.

The study in the US journal Cancer showed people diagnosed with meningioma who reported having a yearly bitewing exam were 1.4 times to 1.9 times as likely as a healthy control group to have developed such tumours.

A bitewing exam involves an x-ray film being held in place by a tab between the teeth.

Also, people who reported getting a yearly panorex exam – in which an x-ray is taken outside the mouth and shows all the teeth on one film – were 2.7 to three times more likely to develop cancer, said the study.

A meningioma is a tumour that forms in the membrane around the brain or spinal cord. Most of the time these tumours are benign and slow growing, but they can lead to disability or life-threatening conditions.

The research, led by Elizabeth Claus of the Yale University School of Medicine, was based on data from 1433 US patients who were diagnosed with the tumours between the ages of ages 20 and 79 years.

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