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Exposure to low-dose radiation 'ups cancer risk'


February 8, 2011 - Washington

A new study has shown that exposure to low-dose radiation from cardiac imaging and other procedures after a Heart attack is associated with an increased risk of cancer.

The study, conducted by researchers from the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and and the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, Quebec, looked at data on 82 861 patients who had a Heart attack between April 1996 and March 2006 but no history of cancer. Of this number, 77 pc underwent at least one cardiac procedure with low-dose ionizing radiation within one year of the attack.

"We found a relation between the cumulative exposure to low-dose ionizing radiation from cardiac imaging and therapeutic procedures after acute myocardial infarction, and the risk of incident cancer," writes Dr. Louise Pilote, researcher in epidemiology at the Research Institute of the MUHC and director of the Division of Internal Medicine at the MUHC with coauthors.

The median age of patients was 63.2 years and 31.7 pc were women. Patients whose treating physician was a cardiologist had higher levels of exposure to radiation compared with those whose treating physician was a general practitioner. There were 12 020 incident cancers detected during follow up, with two-thirds of the cancers affecting the abdomen/pelvis and chest areas.

"These results call into question whether our current enthusiasm for imaging and therapeutic procedures after acute myocardial infarction should be tempered," conclude the authors. "We should at least consider putting into place a system of prospectively documenting the imaging tests and procedures that each patient undergoes and estimating his or her cumulative exposure to low-dose ionizing radiation."

The study has been published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

ANI

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