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Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 1:21 EDT

Dental X-Rays Linked to Brain Tumors

April 11, 2012

(Ivanhoe Newswire) — When you have throbbing pain due to your teeth, the last thing you think about is the danger of the dental x-ray. A new study reveals that individuals who have received frequent dental x-rays have an increased risk of developing the most commonly diagnosed brain tumor in the United Sates, meningioma.

Meningioma is mostly caused by ionizing radiation. Dental x-rays are the most common artificial source of exposure to ionizing radiation for people living in the United States.

The study involved 1,433 patients who were diagnosed with the disease between the ages of 20 and 79 years and were either residents of Connecticut, Massachusetts, North Carolina, the San Francisco Bay Area, and eight counties in Houston, Texas. The control group consisted of 1,350 people who had similar characteristics but who had not yet been diagnosed with meningioma.

Patients with meningioma were more than twice as likely as those in the control group to report having ever had a bitewing exam (an x-ray film held in place by a tab between the teeth). Patients who reported bitewing exams on a yearly basis were 1.4 to 1.9 times more likely to develop meningioma. An increased risk of meningioma was also linked to individuals who at a young age or on a yearly basis were exposed to panorex exams (exams taken outside the mouth and shows all of the teeth on one film). Patients who received panorex exams who were younger than ten years old were 4.9 times more likely to develop meningioma. Those who reported receiving the exams on a yearly basis were 2.7 to 3 times as likely to develop meningioma as the controls.

“The study presents an ideal opportunity in public health to increase awareness regarding the optimal use of dental x-rays, which unlike many risk factors is modifiable. Specifically, the American Dental Association’s guidelines for healthy persons suggest that children receive 1 x-ray every 1-2 years, teens receive 1 x-ray every 1.5-3 years, and adults receive 1 x-ray every 2-3 years. Widespread dissemination of this information allows for increased dialogue between patients and their health care providers,” Elizabeth Claus, M.D., Ph.D., of the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, was quoted as saying.

SOURCE: Cancer, April 2012