Mammography – The relative radiation risks.
“I am never sure about mammograms being offered every 3 to 5 years to every woman over 50 and would love to know if that level of radiation could be causing more problems than it solves?”
Every person is exposed to radiation everyday – the sun is a major cause leading to solar radiation, the geographic area in which you live has a large influence on levels of solar radiation. Many building materials release natural radiation and radon gas escapes from the ground resulting in exposure added to this all food sources contain naturally occurring ionising radiation obtained through the soil and water.
Radiation dosage is measured in mSv (milliSieverts), I realise this will mean nothing to most people but I ve copied the table below from the Health Protection Agency website to show you how to calculate and compare relative exposure risks.
A mammogram exposes a woman to 0.4 mSv every 3 to 5 years. There
has been questions raised as to whether screening results in over diagnosis in breast tumours, which leads to aggressive treatment with possible side effects on patients whose tumours would otherwise have remained harmless. It is impossible to distinguish those cancers which
may cause illness/ or death from those that will remain harmless and therefore all cancers are treated as harmful.
For more information see http://www.breastcancercampaign.org/about-breast-cancer/breast-screening
I think that each woman should be given all the facts in a simple and understandable manner and she should be allowed to make her own decision – a little known thing called informed consent!
Comparison of doses from sources of exposure
Source of exposure
100g of Brazil nuts
Nuclear power station worker average annual occupational exposure (2010)
UK annual average radon dose
CT scan of the head
UK average annual radiation dose
USA average annual radiation dose
CT scan of the chest
Average annual radon dose to people in Cornwall
CT scan of the whole spine
Annual exposure limit for nuclear industry employees
Level at which changes in blood cells can be readily observed
Acute radiation effects including nausea and a reduction in white blood cell count
Dose of radiation which would kill about half of those receiving it in a month
If you are concerned about any radiation risks you may be exposed to during a a hospital test, speak to the radiographer. There is research and evidence that certain herbs may protect you from the detrimental affects caused by ionising radiation. Visit your local herbalist for more information.