"If we can't depend on the medical
experts to cure it,
we better learn how to prevent
routine medical x-rays cause cancer?
The big "C". One in three of us will get it. The "cure
rate" is usually expressed in terms of surviving for so
many years. The common treatments of chemotherapy and radiation are
dangerous and sometimes lethal themselves. We spend billions in treatment
and research and yet prevention and cure are somehow beyond us.
What follows is a medical theory of why cancer is so prevalent today
and a practical approach to cut the cancer and heart disease deaths
in this country by one half, that's 300,000 fewer deaths a year.
It will also provide you with the tools necessary to better your odds
of avoiding cancer for yourself and your family. Remember, you don't
have to be a medical expert to evaluate and act.
following is an excerpt on Dr. John Gofman and his research at the Committee
for Nuclear Responsibility (CNR).
Gofman, MD, Ph.D.
Gofman is a medical doctor with a Ph.D. degree in nuclear and
physical chemistry. He is professor emeritus of molecular and
cell biology at University of California, Berkeley, and a member
of the faculty at University of California Medical School at San
Francisco. During his long career, he has pursued two separate
fields of research -- heart disease, and the health effects of
low-level radiation. He
has won several awards for original research into the causes of
atherosclerosis, which is the growth of fatty "plaque" inside
the blood vessels, often causing fatal heart attacks. In 1974,
the American College of Cardiology selected him as one of the
25 leading researchers in cardiology of the past quarter-century.
In the early 1960s, the US Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) asked
Gofman to develop a Biomedical Research Division at the AEC's
Livermore National Laboratory (LNL) to evaluate the health effects
of all types of nuclear activities.
1970, he became convinced that radiation was more dangerous than
previously believed, and he spoke out against Project Plowshare,
the AEC's plan to explode hundreds of nuclear weapons to release
gas trapped in rock beneath the Rocky Mountains and to excavate
new harbors and canals by exploding nuclear bombs aboveground.
#691.) He also called for a 5-year moratorium on the AEC's
plan to develop 1000 commercial nuclear power plants.
1974, his government funding was cut. He then began a series of
books on the dangers of radiation: Radiation & Human Health
(1981); X-rays -- Health Effects of Common Exams (1985);
Radiation-Induced Cancer from Low-Dose Exposure: An Independent
Analysis (1990); Preventing Breast Cancer: The Story of
a Major, Proven, Preventable Cause of This Disease (1995;
second edition, 1996); and Radiation from Medical Procedures
in the Pathogenesis of Cancer and Ischemic Heart Disease: Dose-Response
Studies with Physicians per 100,000 Population (1999).
Major Cause of Cancer -- Part 3 by Peter Montague in RACHEL'S
ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH WEEKLY #693 --- April 20, 2000 ---
3 part summary of Dr. Gofman's findings should be read and understood
by anyone who gets medical x-rays. My short summary will hopefully intrigue
you to learn more. I will personally donate the full 700 page text (Radiation
from Medical Procedures in the Pathogenesis of Cancer and Ischemic Heart
Disease: Dose-Response Studies with Physicians per 100,000 Population
by John W. Gofman, M.D., Ph.D.) to any public or medical library
that requests it, while my supplies last. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
climate after World War II allowed radiation, the danger of which was
only slowly being understood, to be controlled by the same organizations
that were charged with its peace-time promotion. In the interests of
harnessing "the peaceful atom" human health concerns were
often downplayed in favor of promoting cheap industrial uses for nuclear
power. When x-rays were discovered in the late 1800's, as a "miracle"
of modern medicine, the effects of cumulative radiation, gene mutations,
and cancer were not well-known or well-publicized . The fact that cancer
would often not appear for 20 years after exposure did not help to awaken
public concern when x-ray machines showed up in shoe stores so customers
could see how shoes fit (I remember playing with those machines as a
kid), or when x-ray treatment was used to treat adolescent acne (I remember
that heavy ozone smell as my teenage face - and thyroid - were bathed
in x-rays). Peter
Montague's The Major Cause of Cancer, Part 1 and 2
does a good job of examining the history of radiation in this country.
uses census data to correlate disease statistics, year by year, to the
number of physicians per 100,000 population. Not surprisingly, as the
density of doctors per 100,000 population increases there is a dramatic
decrease in all diseases (except for cancer and heart disease,
which dramatically increase). It was almost as though whatever doctors
were using to cure other disease was actually causing cancer and heart
disease. Gofman estimates that medical radiation caused 83% of female
breast cancer in the U.S. in 1993. This is quite an outrageous claim
and Gofman spends 700 pages of his latest
book justifying his conclusions and proposing ways to correct the
Montague gives a pretty clear explanation of how Gofman reached
his shocking conclusions in .The
Major Cause of Cancer -- Part 3 in RACHEL'S ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH
WEEKLY #693 -- April 20, 2000 -- :
his latest (1999) book, Gofman presents strong evidence that medical
radiation is a major cause of cancer and of atherosclerosis (coronary
heart disease). By "medical radiation" Dr. Gofman is referring
mainly to x-rays, including fluoroscopy and CT ("cat") scans.
The mechanism is simple to state: radiation causes genetic mutations,
which eventually give rise to disease.
is Gofman saying? Does he mean that medical radiation is necessarily
the only cause of cancer and coronary heart disease? Certainly
not. Does he mean that cancer is not caused by smoking, poor diet,
genetic inheritance, pesticides, diesel exhaust, dioxin, and toxic
chemicals encountered on the job? Certainly not. Cancer and heart
disease both have multiple causes. For a cancer (or an atherosclerotic
plaque) to develop, a cell must undergo several (probably 5 to
10) separate gene mutations. Some of these mutations might be
inherited but most occur from exposure to gene-damaging substances
in the environment.
is a way to understand multiple causation. Gofman gives the following
hypothetical example of 100 cases of cancer:
40 cancers caused by co-action of x-rays + smoking + poor diet;
cancers caused by CO-action of x-rays + poor diet + inherited
cancers caused by CO-action of x-rays + smoking + inherited genetic
cancers caused by CO-action of smoking + poor diet + inherited
the first case, the 40 cancers are caused by genetic mutations
that are, in turn, caused by x-rays, smoking, and poor diet. Each
of these three factors is necessary for the cancer to occur;
if any one of the three factors is missing, the cancer will not
occur (Italics mine).
can see that, in this example, x-rays contribute to 40 + 25 +
25 = 90 cases out of 100. In this example, if x-rays were not
present, 90% of the cancers would not occur. Now, in the same
example, look at "poor diet." Poor diet contributes to 40 + 25
+ 10 = 75 of the 100 cases. If poor diet were not present, 75%
of the cancers in this example would not occur.
can see that, in this example, we have x-rays "causing" 90% of
the cancers -- "causing" in the sense that the cancers wouldn't
occur in the absence of x-rays. But we also have poor diet "causing"
75% of the same cancers, meaning that 75% of the cancers wouldn't
occur in the absence of poor diet.
we can see that, when Gofman says x-rays are responsible for a
large proportion of all cancers in the US, he is not saying that
x-rays are the only cause of those cancers. However, he is saying
that most of those cancers would not occur in the absence of x-rays.
is important to point out that Gofman is not opposed to medical
x-rays. Rather he is opposed to unnecessary exposures from
x-rays. He has shown over the years -- and he is definitely not
alone in this -- that medical x-ray exposures in the US could
be cut by at least 50% with no loss of medical information
(Italics mine). The careful use of modern x-ray equipment and
techniques can reduce x-ray exposures by half (or more) without
sacrificing any medical benefits. Thus at least half the cancers
caused by medical x-rays are completely unnecessary.
many unnecessary cancers are we talking about? Gofman calculates
that in 1993, 50% of all cancers in women and 74% of all cancers
in men were attributable to x-rays. In other words, about 60%
of all cancers in the US in 1993 were attributable to x-rays.
About 500,000 people die of cancer each year in the US If 60%
of these deaths are attributable to x-rays and half are unnecessary,
we are talking about 150,000 unnecessary cancer deaths each year
in the US
calculates that the proportion of coronary heart disease (CHD)
attributable to x-rays is slightly higher than the proportion
of cancers. Among men in 1993, 63% of CHD deaths were attributable
to x-rays and among women, 78%. So, in rough numbers, 70% of CHD
deaths are attributable to x-rays, Gofman believes. Since CHD
caused roughly 460,000 deaths in the US in 1993, if Gofman is
right then 70% (or 322,000) of these deaths are attributable to
x-rays and half of these, or 161,000 are unnecessary. Thus
we can see that x-rays are responsible for about 150,000 + 161,000
= 311,000 unnecessary deaths each year in the US, if Gofman is
right (Italics mine).
arm, The X-rays and Health Project (XaHP),
has developed a series of documents giving patients the information
necessary to protect themselves and challenge outmoded thinking in regards
to the safety of medical x-rays. I would personally like to see these
available on the reading table in all doctor's waiting rooms. Anyone
want to help make this happen?
detailed proof linking radiation to cancer.
do you do when your doctor recommends that you or a family member get
an x-ray? Doctors are "experts" and it's difficult to go against
their assurance that there is nothing to worry about. The key is to
be informed, minimize your exposure to radiation and help to educate
others about the very real dangers of radiation from medical x-rays.
My wife recently had a mammogram. I armed her with a folder of information
from this and other web pages. The x-ray technician was knowledgeable
and when she found out that my wife was concerned, interested and somewhat
informed, she was willing to talk about how the Phillips Mammo Diagnost
3000 works. After the x-ray she developed the films and found last year's
film as a comparison. The absorbed amount of radiation was recorded
on both films. Last year's was 143. This year's was 86. What caused
the decrease in radiation necessary for a clear film? Special attention
given to a concerned patient? Better technician procedures? Better machine
upgrades? Chance? I don't know. But I do know that a lot of variables
play into how much x-rays we get and it is up to each of us individually
and collectively to reduce it by as much as possible. Knowledge is King
in the war against cancer.
will not be easy to convince physicians to take special care to
minimize radiation to their patients. Familiarity breeds contempt
and many physicians and dentists treat x-rays as if they are entirely
harmless. Recently I broke a tooth. My dentist, who is first-rate,
needed to document the injury for insurance purposes. "I'll just
snap an x-ray," he said. I asked, "Is there some other way?" He
nodded and immediately scribbled a note: "I broke my tooth and
I don't want an X-ray." "Sign this," he said. "The insurance company
is required to accept it." One unnecessary x-ray avoided.
time someone says they're going to give you an x-ray, don't put
them on the spot but mention that you're curious what dose of
radiation you will get. If your experience is anything like mine,
the person giving the x-ray will not know the answer and you will
be told, "Don't worry. It's completely safe."
1. Be informed.
Read Peter Montague's excellent 3-part
article on Dr. Gofman's work in RACHEL'S ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH WEEKLY
to better understand what I have only summarized here.
unnecessary x-rays. Don't be intimidated. Just say "Is it really
the absolute minimum dosage that will produce a clear image.
XaHP: The X-ray Patient's Bill of Rights can help us inquire about
equipment tests and technician training.
is the time to act.. As Dr. Gofman says:
"Better Late Than Never: If the two goals of the Policy Statement
had been adopted 30 years ago, when it was first clear that x-rays are
a cause of Cancer in adults, countless cases of misery would have been
prevented. It is a moral imperative to do now what could have been done
long ago. The Bay Area can lead the way, as a model for the rest of
California and the nation."
this page to a friend (File / Send Page). Send comments and questions
to Jeff Miner.
D. Sherman, LIFE'S DELICATE BALANCE;
THE CAUSES AND PREVENTION OF BREAST CANCER , 2000).
the 12/24/05 Sacramento Bee report on
Assemblywoman Jenny Oropeza's bill to limit medical x-rays
Obituary of John Gofman
(September 21, 1918 - August 15, 2007)
Wikipedia on John Gofman