By Charles F. Glassman, MD – CoachMD

Next time your doctor tells you to go for an x-ray, maybe you ought to ask a few more questions.
Radiation Exposure from Common X-Ray Studies


One of the most powerful diagnostic tools in medicine is the X-Ray. From CT Scans to routine Chest X-Rays, these tests give us a peek inside the human body, beyond the doctor’s touch or eye site. In the past, and unfortunately still in the present day, many doctors view x-ray studies as benign procedures without the likelihood of harm. In the past 3 – 5 years, there have been many commentaries and studies in major medical journals including The New England Journal of Medicine and JAMA, dispelling the myth that x-rays are free from danger.

Internal Rusting
X-rays are the source of ionizing radiation. What that means is that x-ray beams not only give us an image on a slide, but in doing so they cause ionization (free radicals). This means that the radiation displaces electrons from atoms that make up molecules – the building blocks of every structure in our body. Once displaced, the missing electrons cause the molecules to be unstable. When they float around, they look to get their electron back from other molecules thus causing further oxidation. A similar phenomenon occurs when water and oxygen react with certain metals as iron. We know this as rusting and this in some ways mimics what occurs inside our body with internal oxidation or rusting, which is accelerated by exposure to radiation.

Safety of Radiation
In some respects, there is no safe dose of radiation. We are continually barraged by radiation simply by walking outside or flying in an airplane. However, a healthy body with a sufficient store of natural occurring anti-oxidants and/or supplemented antioxidants has an ability to fix these unstable molecules. The balance may be tipped, though, if we suddenly face larger, unexpected doses. When we do not have the ability to fix instability within our molecules, and especially within the molecules making up our DNA, mutations of tissue occur and many respectable studies have shown can lead to cancer.

Radiation from X-Ray Studies
Common x-rays compare to the exposure that we get from general lifetime activities. Chest X-rays, for example, compares to our exposure over ten days. Dental X-rays compares to a day of general exposure. Whereas, a mammogram is about two and one-half months worth of radiation.  A CT scan of the Abdomen and Pelvis is similar to five years, where the same one with and without contrast is similar to ten years! For more stats, go to this link on the safety of x-rays.

Protecting Yourself from Radiation
Although the use of regular anti-oxidants and multi-vitamins has been a little controversial, I am a proponent of a good health program that includes them to protect from the daily incidental exposure. From what I have seen, most people do not get enough in their diet. If one finds themselves needing an x-ray, I suggest taking good doses of anti-oxidants before and after for a several week to month period. There are many to choose from and I will not endorse any in this article. Nevertheless, you can contact me for information regarding a supplement recently shown in a University of Pittsburgh study to repair damage done by radiation. NASA astronauts also use it.

Take Home Message
So, don’t just accept your doctor telling you, “It’s not that much radiation.” Understand your exposure, weigh the risk vs. the benefit of a diagnosis that could help you, and look for the right supplements to take to minimize the development of free radicals and oxidation.




Dr. Charles Glassman

Charles F. Glassman, MD, FACP - has practiced general internal medicine, for over 20 years.  Dr. Glassman specializes in personalized, patient focused care, with an emphasis on wellness and prevention. He approaches medicine in an integrative manner, looking carefully at all traditionally approved methods while recognizing the power of unconventional therapies. Dr. Glassman has repeatedly earned National and Regional Top Doctor and Patient Choice Awards. His new service, Coach MD blends the knowledge and experience of a caring medical doctor with the passion and guidance of a life coach.

He is the author of the critically acclaimed book Brain Drain, which helps explain and fix self-sabotage. It is the winner of the 2011 Independent Publisher's Award and 2011 Eric Hoffer Award as the best Self-Help and Health book, 2010 Pinnacle Book Award for best Self-Help Book, and 2009 LA Book Festival Best Spirituality Book.

To new subscribers on his website, he is now offering his free, new EBook, Destiny Diet. Weekly, Dr. Glassman hosts Medicine on the Cutting Edge, which gives a voice to pioneers in medical research and development. Dr. Glassman lives with his family in Rockland County, NY.
Dr. Charles GlassmanCoachMD Medical Advice ColumnHealth  By Charles F. Glassman, MD - CoachMD Next time your doctor tells you to go for an x-ray, maybe you ought to ask a few more questions. Radiation Exposure from Common X-Ray Studies   One of the most powerful diagnostic tools...Parenting Advice| Family Fun Activities for Kids