Excessive Radiation Exposure Affecting Younger Adults

Recently Released Yale Study Has Disturbing Findings

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, killing well over 600,000 people last year alone. With rates of heart disease trending higher and afflicting an ever-younger portion of the population, nearly one in 10 adults under the age of 65 has been exposed to high levels of ionizing radiation from cardiac imaging tests. Basically, when younger adults receive an MRI or CT and they are exposed to radiation that could, when repeated over time, put them at risk.

Looking at the entire population of similarly situated people across the country indicates that about 636,000 people are at risk from the cumulative effective doses of that radiation.

Boiled down, the study's findings indicate that the medical community is in a difficult situation, a "Catch-22," if you will: the cancer risk associated with ionizing radiation is somewhat decreased by the likelihood that imaging scans like CTs and MRIs could detect life-threatening heart defects or diseases in time for treatment. Still, since radiation is a known carcinogen, doctors should be cautious when ordering imaging tests on younger patients.

In years past, physical exams, blood tests, biopsies and exploratory surgeries were the primary diagnostic tools, but as technology has increased, so has unnecessary - albeit relatively easy and effective - testing. In fact, the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements estimates that diagnostic imaging tests have contributed to a seven-fold increase in radiation exposure in the past 30 years. And, unfortunately, there are no regulations governing medical radiation - there is no state or federal limit on the amount of radiation given to a patient for a diagnostic test.

There are patient advocacy and consumer watchdog groups who are supporting limitations on diagnostic testing radiation levels. Until then, though, diagnostic testing can and does expose countless people to excessive levels of radiation every day. This radiation has the potential to cause or exacerbate cancer and other conditions. If you or a loved one has been harmed by an excess of medical radiation, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney in your area to learn more about your rights and possible legal options.