Dental X-ray Thyroid Cancer Risk

I am posting this article because not many people know about it. I have told quite a few, but I got the feeling that they did not trust me.  It is official now, so please pass it on to others so they can benefit from this information. I only wish I had known earlier…

Question: Do dental X-rays increase the risk for thyroid cancer?

Dr. Brownstein’s Answer:

A recently published study showed that dental X-rays do not come without a risk of thyroid cancer. The population-based, case-controlled study, published in 2010 in Acta Oncologica (issue 49, pages 446-53), looked at the relationship between dental X-rays and the development of thyroid cancer.

Scientists compared 313 patients with thyroid cancer to a similar number of matched individuals who did not have thyroid cancer. The researchers found that there was slightly more than twice the risk of thyroid cancer in individuals exposed to dental X-rays, with a dose response pattern. This means that those exposed to repeated dental X-rays had a higher risk of developing thyroid cancer.

Are dental X-rays useful? The answer is “yes.” Dental X-rays can pick up tooth problems early enough for effective preventive measures. But, as this study showed, those X-rays don’t come without risk. What can you do to avoid getting thyroid cancer? I suggest having your body shielded, including your thyroid gland, when getting dental X-rays. This will at least minimize the radiation damage to the thyroid gland.


About martisima

After over 50 years of teaching literature to undergraduate and graduate students, I feel I have earned my retirement (it happened when I was 72, five years ago). I do miss the classroom, however, but not the meetings and all other requirements of the profession. I love teaching, and wish I could still do it. But now I read for pleasure, and watch films, and listen to all kinds of music (no TV, though). I love to travel, and hope I can resume doing it soon. I need to get over my health issues caused by thyroid surgery three years ago!
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4 Responses to Dental X-ray Thyroid Cancer Risk

  1. At my dentist, they shield the neck area too when taking X-rays.

  2. The small amount of radiation exposure that a patient receives from dental X-rays has never been proven to cause cancer of the lens of the eye, thyroid, salivary glands, bone marrow or skin. Nevertheless, every little bit counts.

  3. martisima says:

    It may be small, but over the years it really adds up to a lot. I should know. I am 76, and all dentists have taken more X-rays than necessary !

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