Antioxidant Protection from Ionizing Radiation from Scans
In 2012 Canadians received 4.4 million computed tomography (CT) exams, nearly double the number in 2003. (Canadian Institute for Health Information). These numbers are surely higher today. In 2007 Brenner estimated that 1.5 – 2.0% of all cancers in the US are caused by the irradiation from CT scanning (Brenner, 2007, New England Journal of Medicine). In those people with a BRCA mutation receiving chest Xrays or CT scans before they’re 30, they have a 1.5-4x higher probability of developing breast cancer than the rest of the BRCA population. (Pijpe et al, 2012, BMJ).
Antioxidants have been shown to reduce DNA injury and long-term cancer risk caused by ionizing radiation at much higher dosages than actual clinically used exposures (Miller et al., 2013, Carcinogenesis). Through the oral pre-medication of specific antioxidants, this damage can be minimized or mitigated. The antioxidants are safe, widely available at low cost, and easily taken by mouth. Some of the antioxidants are to be taken for 1-2 weeks prior to the scans, while others only need to be started within 24 hours of the scans.
It has been projected that in the USA in 2007 scans caused approximately 29,000 excess cancers (National Cancer Institute). These numbers are growing with the increased utility of high-radiation CT and PET/CT scans. Appropriate antioxidant premedication may significantly reduce DNA injury after imaging studies, significantly reducing the excess cancers caused by imaging, effectively tackling this growing public health concern. For those that have already received many scans, ask what antioxidant strategies can be utilized in your case. Please discuss your imaging protection plan with your IHC doctor.
Gurdev Parmar ND