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Cancer risk is low, but possible in airport scanners

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CNN
March 29, 2011

If you’ve traveled through an airport lately, you’ve probably seen one of the new full body X-ray machines called a backscatter, a type of imaging technology used by the Transportation Security Administration to identify concealed items.

A special article published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine says “passengers should not fear.” The device, which raised concerns among some because it uses small doses of ionizing radiation, a known carcinogen, poses “no significant threat” even to frequent fliers, the authors say.

[...]

Still there are some who are cautious. David Brenner, director of the Center for Radiological Research at the Columbia University Medical Center, published an article in April in the journal Radiology, and also found the radiation exposure to be small, but says even though the cancer risk is low, it is possible.

“The bottom line is that both my paper and this suggest that there will be some cancers produced in the long run from mass screening with X-rays,” he says. ”The analogy I usually give is with someone buying a lottery ticket. Your individual chance of winning is extremely small, but we do know that some people will indeed win.”

“There is considerable uncertainty about just how many cancers that will be.”

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This article was posted: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at 7:36 am





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