Unnecessary exposure to radiation may lead to thyroid cancer

Many Americans are receiving dangerously high doses of radiation from an unlikely source. Despite potential thyroid and other cancer risks, CT scans - tests that use a focused beam of X-rays to provide a sharp cross-section view of soft tissues - are a powerful source of radiation that are used every day, the LA Times reports.

A single CT scan to the chest exposes a person to about 10 millisieverts (msv) of radiation. The typical person gets about that much radiation from natural sources every three years.

A study released in May suggests that dental X-rays may double the risk of thyroid cancer. However, the scientists noted that thyroid cancer is still rare despite the widespread use of dental X-rays.

The American Cancer Society recommends that patients receive a CT scan or X-ray only "if there's a good medical reason to do so." CT scans can often provide much clearer pictures of cancers and organs than any other type of scan, including radiation-free ultrasounds and MRIs.

Thyroid cancer is the fastest-growing cancer in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. 
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