X-Rays Linked to Increased Leukemia Risk in Kids

A news study has found that exposure to three or more x-rays in childhood doubles the risk that a child will develop acute lymphoid leukemia. The authors of the study called their findings a “very serious alert,” and urged that doctors avoid unnecessary x-rays for children, and take precautions with CT scans as well.

Acute lymphoid leukemia is the most common type of cancer among kids aged 1 to 7 years. While it is often treated successfully, it can be fatal.

For this study, researchers at University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health looked at the medical records of 711 children up to the age of 14 who were diagnosed with acute lymphoid leukemia in California from 1995-2008. Those children were compared to similar kids who didn’t have leukemia.

Excluding x-rays taken in the year prior to diagnosis and before birth, the study found that children were 1.85 times more likely to develop that type of leukemia if they had had three or more x-rays

The researchers also looked children with acute myeloid leukemia, but found no link between that type of leukemia and exposure to x-rays.

The researchers also noted that CT scans create more radiation than traditional x-rays. Future studies will look into the effects of CT scans on leukemia rates, they said.

This study was published in the Oct. 1 online edition of the International Journal of Epidemiology.

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