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Dental X-Rays May Be Linked to Benign Brain Tumors
Date:4/10/2012

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, April 10 (HealthDay News) -- People who underwent frequent dental X-rays in the past, before radiation doses were lowered, may be at greater risk of a usually benign form of tumor in the lining of the brain, a new study suggests.

The research doesn't definitely link dental X-rays to the tumors, which affect about 1 percent of people. It's also possible that dental X-rays, which are now given at a lower radiation dose, have nothing to do with the tumors.

Still, the study suggests that dental X-rays could be a risk factor for the tumors, called meningiomas, said study author Dr. Elizabeth Claus, a neurosurgeon at Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston and a professor of epidemiology at Yale University School of Medicine. The findings suggest that patients should talk to their dentists about the possible dangers of X-rays and be aware of national recommendations regarding their use, she said.

"I do not get the feeling that people are aware of those guidelines," she said. "Many people are having them every six months or every year when the American Dental Association is saying once every two to three years." (That's the recommendation for the patient who's never had a cavity or only a small number of fillings and isn't at increased risk for a cavity.)

Meningiomas affect the lining of the brain and the spinal cord. More than 90 percent are classified as benign, not malignant. But in some cases they can grow to the size of a baseball and disrupt the brain's functioning, leading to vision problems, headaches, hearing and memory loss, and seizures.

Neurosurgeons often try to remove them in the most severe cases.

"They cause problems as soon as they achieve a certain size, because there is no room in the skull to accommodate growth. Any growth that is more than a couple centimeters can result in symptoms," explained Dr. Isabelle Germano, director of the Com
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