X-rays are used to scan your body and find out if you have health issues that cannot be spotted by the naked eye. Despite the great benefits of X-rays, they do emit radiation and pose a risk of causing cancer. Below I’ve looked at how safe the three main types of X-ray are.
Recommended reading: 4 Things to Do Before Going into the X Ray Room
Are X-rays radioactive?
To get things out of the way, X-rays are not radioactive. X-rays are a type of electromagnetic radiation that occurs naturally and X-ray machines do not contain any radioactive material, meaning that even when they are energized there is no risk of you being contaminated.
Will X-rays give me cancer?
Because X-rays are a form of radiation, they classified as a carcinogen and this means that they are capable of causing cancer in living tissue. However, the risk of you getting cancer from an X-ray is small, with there being around a 1.2% chance of an X-ray causing cancer.
Which X-ray proceedure is most likely to cause cancer?
The cancer risk posed by X-rays depends on the part of your body being examined, with some areas receiving a higher concentration of radiation than others. Below are the different major body areas and how much natural background radiation (NBR) an X-ray on them is equivalent to:
- Chest: 2.4 days of NBR
- Skull: 12 days of NBR
- Lumbar spine: 182 days of NBR
- Head: 243 days of NBR
- Upper gastrointestinal: 2 years of NBR
- Barium enema: 2.7 years of NBR
- Abdomen: 2.7 years of NBR
How safe is radiography?
Radiography is the most common type of X-ray that you can have, along with being the safest. Radiography is a type of imaging that lets physicians see the internal form of a life-form or object, giving the classic X-ray image. To create an image, electromagnetic radiation is projected towards an object.
What are the risks of fluoroscopy?
While radiography produces an internal image of an object, fluoroscopy is more like a movie of your insides. Fluoroscopy creates a continual image, making it possible for a radiographer or radiologist to see how your body’s organs are working. Though fluoroscopy does involve more radiation than radiography the amount is still minuscule.
Is computed tomography safe?
If you’ve ever seen a film or TV show where a patient is sent into a scanner, then they will be having an X-ray by computed tomography (CT). CT produces a 3-D image of your internal structure by sending a number of slice style rays over your body. Due to the large number of scans made during a single sitting, CT scans emit the most radiation of all X-rays but are still safe – hence why they are used.
While X-rays are a natural form of radiation and a type of carcinogenic, they are very safe and the benefits of having one vastly outweigh the risks of getting cancer. So next time you’re booked in for an X-ray, remember that the chances of your life being saved by one are much higher than the threat of getting cancer.