Researchers indicate that dental X-rays may be linked to an increased risk of a potentially debilitating form of brain cancer.
Bitewing X-rays appear to be associated with double the risk of developing meningioma, according to researchers from several prominent U.S. universities and cancer institutes. Their findings were published on April 10 in Cancer, the medial journal of the American Cancer Society.
Meningioma is a form of brain cancer that usually results in benign tumors, and are the most common type of brain tumor. However, large tumors can result in seizures, spastic weakness in the legs, incontinence and other problems.
The study was conducted by researchers from Duke University, Yale University, the University of Texas, the University of California at San Francisco, as well as Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and the Anderson Cancer Institute in Houston Texas. They looked at 1,433 patients who suffered from intracranial meningioma between the ages of 20 and 79 and compared them with a group of 1,350 control subjects.
Researchers found that those who had a bitewing examination were twice as likely to be diagnosed with brain tumors than those who had never taken such an exam. They also noticed an increased risk among those who had panorex films taken at a young age or on a regular basis. Those who had such films taken at ages younger than 10 were five times as likely to be diagnosed as those who did not.
In bitewing X-rays, patients hold the X-ray film in their mouth by biting down on a tab. A panorex view is a more rare X-ray that provides a panoramic view of the patient’s teeth.
The researchers noted that the greatest risks appeared to be linked to older exposures taken years ago, when radiation levels used in X-rays were higher than they are presently.