Do dental xrays cause brain tumors?

There was a recent study  (from the Yale School of Public Health in the  U.S. ) which reported  they found a relation between people  who have had frequent dental xrays also had an increased risk of benign meningioma (type of brain tumor) .  These researchers compared 1433 people who had this type of tumor with 1350 people who did not.  All patients were asked, among other things , about their history of dental treatment and the number of times they had specific dental xrays throughout their life.  They found the tumor group more than twice as likely as the comparison group to report having frequent  bitewing xrays taken.  They concluded those who had these xrays yearly or more frequently were at 40 to 90 percent higher risk to be diagnosed with a brain tumor.  However, there was no apparent increase in risk or association of tumor diagnosis for people who had frequent  full mouth series (multiple)of  xrays.  “That inconsistency is impossible to understand to me”, said an expert with the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology.  This inconsistency calls into question the conclusions from this particular study.  It implies that fewer bitewing type xrays may cause more problems than many or multiple xrays over may years which would be unlikely.

 

It should also be pointed out that all of the subjects of the study had their xrays done over many years when exposure levels were much higher than they are today . In any case, you only need dental xrays if there is a clear indication to take them and likely no more than once per year or so.  In any case you have to be careful  how researchers come to their conclusions and especially how the media interprets them.  In other words maybe it “it ain’t necessarily so.”

 

This headline hit the media earlier this year and raised a lot of eyebrows at the time.

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