Dental X-rays and Brain Tumors Back in the News

***UPDATED: February 20, 2014*** Two years after an international story broke about the connection between dental x-rays and brain tumors, patients are still anxious about having the radiographs performed at their annual visits to the dentist.  In an effort to help calm the fears of his patients and others, Dr. Luis Sanchez of Miami Dental Sedation Spa, has composed an article discussing the risks and benefits of dental x-rays.  In this piece, Are You Exposing Yourself At The Dentist?, Dr. Sanchez discusses the critical decision that doctors must make in using x-rays and how to protect yourself from overexposure.  Dr. Sanchez graduated from the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and has articles published in the American Journal of Dentistry, Journal of the American Association of Dental Schools, and the Miami Herald.

Almost a year ago, the dental industry was shaken by reports that claimed a correlation between dental x-rays and brain tumors.  I wrote an extensive blog about the matter last April, (“ADA Responds to Dental X-ray Study”).  To summarize, a study published in the American Cancer Society journal, Cancer, found that people with meningiomas (generally benign brain tumors), reported having experienced specific types of dental x-rays in the past.  The American Dental Association (ADA) responded to the report after finding flaws in the research.   The ADA called the study “unreliable,” mainly because it relied heavily on participants’ ability to recall their dental x-ray history, which is something most have a difficult time with.  Later in the year, the association released new recommendations for dental x-rays after collaborating with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in an effort to decrease radiation exposure to patients, leading many experts to feel they must have felt the study held some truth.

The topic of dental x-rays resulting in brain tumors in now back in the news after a Chinese research team published further evidence.  The Dental Tribune article, “Dental X-rays increase risk of benign but not of malignant brain tumors,” details the report.  Researchers conducted two studies in order to evaluate the risk of developing benign and malignant brain tumors after experiencing dental x-rays.  The first involved 4,123 patients diagnosed with benign tumors and 16,492 healthy controls.  The second studied 197 participants with malignant tumors and 788 controls.  Apparently, after analyzing patient data, the research team concluded that the risk of benign brain tumors did increase with the frequency of dental x-rays, but found no significant association between malignant brain tumors and exposure to the common dental diagnostic tool.  The study was conducted at the China Medical University and included a collaboration of several scientific health institutions throughout the country.  According to the American Brain Tumor Association, Meningiomas, primarily benign brain tumors, make up approximately 34% of all primary brain tumors, making it the most common.  It is estimated that close to 70,000 new cases of primary brain tumors will be diagnosed this year in the U.S. alone.

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