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Risk of cancer increases with exposure to low-dose radiation
Date:2/7/2011

Exposure to low-dose radiation from cardiac imaging and other procedures after a heart attack is associated with an increased risk of cancer, found a new study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) (pre-embargo link only) http://www.cmaj.ca/embargo/cmaj100463.pdf.

The use of procedures with low-dose ionizing radiation, such as computed tomography (CT) angiography and nuclear scans, is increasing which has led to mounting concern in the medical community that patients may be at increased risk of cancer. For patients with known or suspected coronary artery disease, the trend towards increased use of these procedures is particularly strong. In many centres, these procedures are replacing those that do not use radiation, such as stress tests on exercise treadmills and echocardiography. However, little is known about the effects of exposure to radiation and the risk of cancer.

The study, conducted by researchers from the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and and the Jewish General Hospital in Montral, Quebec, looked at data on 82 861 patients who had a heart attack between April 1996 and March 2006 but no history of cancer. Of this number, 77% underwent at least one cardiac procedure with low-dose ionizing radiation within one year of the attack.

"We found a relation between the cumulative exposure to low-dose ionizing radiation from cardiac imaging and therapeutic procedures after acute myocardial infarction, and the risk of incident cancer," writes Dr. Louise Pilote, researcher in epidemiology at the Research Institute of the MUHC and director of the Division of Internal Medicine at the MUHC with coauthors. "Although most patients were exposed to low or moderate levels of radiation, a substantial group were exposed to high levels and in general tended to be younger male patients with fewer comorbidities."

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Contact: Kim Barnhardt
kim.barnhardt@cmaj.ca
613-520-7116 x2224
Canadian Medical Association Journal
Source:Eurekalert

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