Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dental X-rays and Risk of Meningioma

In a seminar recently, I was speaking about strategies to help age-proof your brain and mentioned avoiding exposure to radiation when possible. A year or two ago I had read an article in Journal Cancer entitled “Dental x-rays and risk of meningioma.” It reported a study that suggested a link between cumulative dental X-ray exposures and meningiomas, the most frequently diagnosed brain tumors among adults in the United States. Fortunately, the majority of meningiomas are not malignant. Nevertheless, they can grow very large and can trigger a range of potentially serious symptoms (e.g., headaches, vision and hearing losses, memory problems, seizures...). No surprise, developing a meningioma has never been one of my goals. Therefore, I discussed this research with my dentist and negotiated a plan: I would stop taking annual dental X-rays unless he did an exam and saw some clear indication to do so. He agreed and noted our discussion in my chart. Apparently, things don’t always go so smoothly, something I discovered recently when visiting a friend of mine. Her story tomorrow.

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