How Dangerous Are The EMFs From CT Scan Radiation?

Back in 2002 when I first became electrosensitive my doctor, in his quest to find out what was wrong with me, sent me for a whole battery of tests. One of these tests was a CT scan.

I remember laying there as my body passed through the hole of this big white donut shaped device. What I did not realize at the time was the high levels of ct scan radiation I was submitting myself to.

In 2002 I was just beginning to get a grip on the dangers of cell phone radiation, of WiFi and electromagnetic fields generally. I was learning about these things first-hand because I was suffering from their effects every day. So it never occurred to me that the CT scan I was undergoing was even more deadly in terms of radiation exposure.

How Do CT Scans Work?

CT (Computed tomography) or CAT scans use a computer and a rotating x-ray device to create detailed cross-sectional images of organs and body parts.

ct scan radiation
CT or CAT scan

These can be full body or partial scans. Multiple images are taken and then the computer compiles them into complete, cross-sectional pictures of soft tissue, bone, and blood vessels. Doctors use CT scans to identify small nodules or tumors which they cannot see on an x-ray.

How Much Radiation Do You Get From A CT Scan?

I have now had time to do my research on this topic. There are so many statistics I could quote to you, here's one that really brings it home:

One CT scan is equivalent to about 750 chest x-rays.

A 40-year old woman who has a coronary CT scan has a 1 in 270 chance of getting cancer from that single scan. This statistic doubles for a 20 year old Woman.

That's massive when you consider that in the US

– around 19500 CT scans are conducted daily (over 70 million scans annually)

– between 2000 and 2005 spending for imaging studies more than doubled

one in five Americans will receive a CT scan in any given year

Some estimates say that CT scans cause 29,000 excess cancers each year in the US alone, mostly in women.

Is CT Scan Radiation Worse Than Cell Phone Radiation?

This is a bit like comparing apples and pears. You use a cell phone just to have a conversation, not to perform what may be a life-saving diagnosis. But clearly a CT scan exposes you to a far higher dose of radiation at a far higher frequency (x-ray) than cell phone radiation and whats more it exposes you to ionizing radiation just like regular x-rays.

Cell phone radiation, and other wireless forms of radiation, are dangerous because of long-term constant exposure to relatively small amounts of radiation. Whereas CT scan radiation is more about undergoing a single, or perhaps only several, massive doses of radiation which has its health consequences may be 10 or 20 years later.

To put this in perspective you need to be scanned 200,000 times by an airport body scanner to accumulate the radiation that you would get from a single CT scan. A CT scan is the equivalent of about 74 mammograms.

Why are CT scans on the increase?

I hate to say it but I think it's mainly to do with money, again. This is a multi-billion-dollar industry which encompasses the CT equipment manufacturers, radiologists and hospitals. It's an industry which feeds off the publics health fears. If you can have a scan and know in a few hours if you have a life-threatening tumor, or not, then people do not need a lot of convincing.

As with cell phone radiation, where this is all wrong is that the public is being kept completely in the dark as to the danger of the CT scan radiation. Some studies even suggest that a majority of radiologists are unaware of the cancer risks of CT scans.

How can CT scan radiation be avoided?

Ultrasounds can be substituted for CTs in certain cases. But it is true that often there is really no substitute to a CT scan, in terms of the quality of diagnosis it will provide. But the question you need to ask yourself is do I really need a CT scan? Do I really need this level of diagnosis? Given the dangers of such a scan, do the benefits outweigh the dangers?

Is the CT scan worth the radiation risk?

Yes this is a question you really need to ask yourself, because CT scans are a truly remarkable piece of technology that they are also an overused technology, not unlike cell phones! Also like cell phones, children are particularly susceptible to the dangers.

My advice: only go for the CT scan if you have made absolutely sure you need one.

Here is a news item highlighting the dangers:

Announcer: “In Alabama, a school teacher Becky Coudert’s hair has fallen off. Her lawyers say she received a higher than normal radiation dose after having a CT brain scan in September. Two other patients have come forward with similar stories. In Los Angeles, Cedar Sinai Medical Centre is being investigated for giving excess radiation to more than 250 patients during their CT scans. The problem of too much radiation during CT scans maybe more widespread than anyone thought and the doses administered are actually higher than generally reported.

CT Scan Radiation Dosages Vary

New research has found a wide variation in radiation dose for the most common CT scans like abdomen, pelvis and chest. A survey of 4 hospitals found some patients received 13 times more radiation than others for the same type of scan. Depending on where a particular patient was sent, be it hospital 1 or hospital 2 or if it was in the afternoon or the evening, the dose that the patient received was found to be profoundly different and this degree of variation was what really was so surprising.

Radiation is a known carcinogen even in the relatively small amounts used with most CTs. There are a number of uncertainties involved in predicting cancer risk, but a recent study estimates that about 29000 future cancers might be caused by the 72 million CT scans done in 2007. So if a CT scan is truly indicated patients are advised to proceed with that scan but they should be sure to choose an accredited facility that can be relied upon to control the radiation dose and make it as low as possible. The FDA in investigating the type of brain scan that went wrong in California and Alabama hospitals. Meanwhile experts are calling for regulations to standardize how all CT scans are performed.”

Remember, when you go for a CT scan you are exposing yourself to CT scan radiation, this is not to be taken lightly…

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  • Mike King said,

    If a car was capable of killing 1 in 400 people over 10 to 20 years it would be sued off the market never to be seen again. Each radiologist agreeing to do an unnecesary CT should have the same treatment.

  • Mary said,

    I have had 5 CT scanns, 5 years ago, I am very worried, I didn’t know at the time that scanners where dangereous, doctors did not told me, of course, now I know why. What do you recomend me.
    Thank you for your information

  • Lloyd said,

    Studies show EMF exposures are cumulative, I would suggest that you try and minimize your exposures to EMFs generally, look under the category “electromagnetic protection” for some ideas, and you might want to subscribe to my newsletter.

  • Mike said,

    If you are worried about your CT scan, ask your radiology group for a physicists report on radiation dose you received and likely outcomes. Most are “almost” safe compared with not having one. A lot are not needed but performed for medico-legal reasons(who wants to be sued).
    A chest and abdo CT has the equivalent radiation dose of at least 750 chest x-rays.

  • Lloyd said,

    Getting a physicists report is a good idea but EMF mitigation is your best line of defense.

  • John said,

    What happens to the radiation after the CT Scan is done? I work in an office with several people that have had CT Scans and I am afraid of sitting in the chairs that they have sat in.

  • Lloyd said,

    I don’t know of any research on this subject, so I can only speculate. The CT scan can have a big impact on the health of the patient, particularly in the long term, but I think it fairly unlikely that your health would be put at risk by using the same furniture as them.

  • Mike said,

    CT and X-ray radiation is EMF, the same as a light bulb, turn it of and there is no effect left, unlike cobolt, radium etc which is a source radiation with ongoing effects.

  • Lloyd said,

    The studies talk of the cumulative nature of EMF exposures, if there was no effect when you “turned EMFs off” this cumulative effect would not be observed. Clearly there are ongoing effects with CT and X-ray radiation also.

  • Mike King said,

    Hi, yes you are right, there is an ongoing effect on living objects, the radiation doesn’t keep going, the damage done by the x-ray wave-length is non fixable but a chair or inanimate object doesn’t notice such effect as its cells are not dividing or multiplying as in living things.

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