If You're Obese, X-Rays Could Slightly Up Your Cancer Risk

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The amount of radiation necessary to X-ray people who are morbidly obese is higher than what’s required in normal-weight people, and that increases the obese person’s risk of cancer, according to a study out of the United Kingdom.

The study was done at the University of Exeter and Musgrove Park Hospital and published in the Journal of Radiological Protection, and involving 630 severely obese people with body mass indices (BMI) as high as 50. Participants in the study had undergone weight loss surgery — gastric band, gastric sleeve, or gastric bypass, for example. The researchers, who had access to participants’ history of radiation doses in X-rays done between 2007 and 2015, found that these obese people got much higher doses of radiation than normal weight people, due to the greater amount of tissue to be X-rayed.

The overall cancer risk caused by extra radiation was found to be 153 percent higher than for normal amounts of X-ray radiation, but the researchers also concluded that the actual risk of developing cancer from X-rays was low. The data: 22.6 million X-ray procedures were done in England in 2015-2016, possibly leading to up to 280 cancer cases. On the other hand, X-rays save countless lives by detecting abnormalities in the body.

Sourced from: Journal of Radiological Protection