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Obesity increases X-ray risks

Friday December 21st, 2018

Extremely obese patients face a significantly increased risk of developing cancer from undergoing X-rays, researchers warn today.

A study in the west country has found that these patients need much higher doses of radiation during scans than patients of healthy weights.

Their conclusion is that the risk of cancer remains low – but is more than doubled.

The study was carried out at Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, Somerset, and at Exeter University, Devon.

It involved some 630 patients who underwent bariatric surgery – with body mass indices of up to 50.

The findings were published in the Journal of Radiological Protection yesterday.

The researchers say that annually in England up to 280 cases of cancer may be linked to X-ray – out of 22 million procedures performed annually.

They find that being seriously obese increased the risk of X-ray related cancer by 153%.

Researcher Karen Knapp, from Exeter University, said: “Our findings highlight the implications of increased radiation doses in severely obese patients.

“Although the risk of cancer from X-ray is very low, we urgently need more research in patients who are overweight and obese, so we can understand how to minimise doses in this group and feed into far more robust guidelines around radiation, in turn to minimise that risk."

Musgrove Park bariatric surgeon Richard Welbourn added: "Patients should not be put off having the X-rays they need to investigate disease as they are often crucial in getting the right treatment.

“With two thirds of the UK population overweight or obese, the results highlight how important it is for the NHS to implement strategies to treat this epidemic.”

Increased radiation dose and projected radiation-related lifetime cancer risk in patients with obesity due to projection radiography. Journal of Radiological Protection 20 December 2018

Tags: Cancer | Diet & Food | UK News

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