How To Reverse Ct Scan Damage
CT scans are a common way that doctors diagnose and treat medical conditions. But while they can provide important information about your health, there is one thing that many people don’t realize – the radiation used in these tests may be harmful. A new study shows that taking certain antioxidant supplements before undergoing a CT scan helps to reduce the amount of radiation absorbed by the body.
The researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine looked at the effect of vitamin C (ascorbic acid), beta-carotene (a type of vitamin A) and N-acetylcysteine (NAC). They found that all three were effective at reducing the level of genetic damage caused by X-ray radiation. The team’s findings will appear in an upcoming issue of “Molecular Imaging.”
According to lead researcher Dr. David Smith, head of the Radiation Oncology department at Stanford University Medical Center, the idea for the study came when he noticed his own children had become sick after being exposed to radiation from a particular kind of x-ray machine.
“I was working on an unrelated project with our clinical collaborator,” says Smith, “and we started talking about how radiation from those machines could cause cancer. I mentioned my personal experience, and she said her kids also got sick after getting a CT scan.” He immediately thought of doing more research into what causes the side effects.
The scientists determined that the radiation emitted from the machine affects cells’ ability to repair themselves by causing oxidative stress. Oxidative stress refers to the formation of oxygen molecules called free radicals. Free radicals attack healthy cells, damaging their DNA and making them vulnerable to cancerous mutations. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, limiting the damage done by radiation.
To test the effectiveness of antioxidants, the researchers first needed to develop a method to measure the amount of radiation absorbed by human tissue. In order to do so, they built a computer model to simulate different dosages of radiation based on real world data. Then they tested the effects of varying levels of each supplement using two types of skin cell cultures. One contained normal skin cells, and the other had been genetically altered to make it sensitive to radiation. After exposing both groups to various levels of radiation, the researchers measured the number of double strand breaks in the cells’ chromosomes. Double strand breaks occur when free radicals interact directly with DNA, which then becomes damaged or broken.
They discovered that all three supplements decreased the amount of radiation absorbed by the skin cells. And the best results were seen with beta carotene – although its effects weren’t as strong as those of vitamin C or NAC. This suggests that vitamin C should work better than beta carotene if taken prior to a scan.
Although not conclusive, the researchers say that their results suggest that patients who take antioxidants before a scan receive greater protection against radiation damage than those who don’t. However, further research must be done to confirm the link between pre-scan supplementation and reduced risk.
Dr. Smith cautions that his study doesn’t prove that antioxidants completely protect you from radiation damage. Instead, the study indicates that they can decrease the amount of radiation absorbed by your organs. That means that less radiation would reach the tissues around your bones, where cancers commonly form.
But even if the study proves that antioxidants limit radiation exposure, it doesn’t mean that everyone should start popping up pills just because of this research. If you have any underlying health problems, such as heart disease or diabetes, you should speak with your doctor about whether you really need to undergo a scan.
In addition, Dr. Smith stresses that he wouldn’t recommend taking supplements every day. Most of us already get plenty of antioxidants through our diet, so adding extra isn’t necessary. Also, most over-the-counter dietary supplements contain very little actual nutrients, but instead are simply vitamins and minerals mixed together. These mixtures won’t provide the same benefits as consuming foods rich in antioxidants alone. Finally, antioxidants aren’t necessarily safe for everyone. Some people might react badly to them, especially those who have allergies or other medical issues. For example, sulfites in wine and aspirin can trigger asthma attacks among susceptible people.
So far, the American Cancer Society recommends that women who want to reduce their chances of developing breast cancer consider having regular mammograms rather than opting out altogether. Women under 40, however, shouldn’t worry about the risks associated with regular screening exams. Those over 30, though, should think twice about delaying preventive care until they’re actually diagnosed with something serious.
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