nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
See here for more discussion.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Dr. Oz Stirs The Radiation Hysteria Pot

One last stab at dealing with radiation hysteria.

I hope you're as bored as I am at this point with all the news media attention to "detecting" radiation at various points around the globe.

Friends and family have been writing me.  One of these was to inquire about Dr. Oz.  I don't watch these shows, but apparently, the Great and Powerful Oz had a segment on x-rays and increasing risk of thyroid cancer.  There's a shield for the thyroid (like the lead apron) so that the neck is covered during an x-ray.  You can request its use, but a lot of dentists don't use it all the time, only when the patient requests it.

Here's why.  If you want a thyroid shield for a dental x-ray, you should wear the shield when you go to the beach for the day, or when you fly in an airliner.   The radiation dose is about the same.  And it's "cumulative lifetime radiation exposure" that is the real measure of cancer risk.  So if you get 0.001 millisieverts of exposure from a dental x-ray, but your routine background exposure from just living on the planet is 2.4 millisieverts per year (on avg), you can see that the dose is trivial:  the radiation you experience everyday for a year is 2000 times what the dental film delivers.

There's a great Op/Ed piece from yesterday at (here) by climatologist Patrick Michaels.  A couple of quotes:
People stay up at night worrying about the 5% increase in sunburn-causing radiation as a result of stratospheric ozone depletion, and the next morning go to the beach and expose 95% of their skin to the same rays.
and, in regard to the model of exponential decay with distance from an environmental exposure (radiation or pollution, take your pick),
At a 2 mile radius, there's only one-fourth of the concentration there is at one mile. At 10 miles, a hundredth; at a thousand, a millionth--all of which simply proves that there will never be a health effect from Fukushima found in California.
I'm not sure how much more income the news networks can milk out of this false issue, but they'll keep trying as long as people tune in.

Doc D


Anonymous said...

Are you an actual medical doctor or person with a degree in a field that would show that your are an informed and educated writer?

Doc D said...

Yep. MD (Baylor College of Medicine), with Masters in Public Health (Johns Hopkins), board certified in preventive medicine and a fellow of the American College of Preventive Medicine. See the About Me link.

Anonymous said...

I am medical physicist at a medium sized hospital, and I can't even begin to list the number of calls I get about patients and their worries over radiation. I am happy to answer their questions, but it is a shame that people are so worried about an issue that is a much smaller risk to their health than their smoking habit. I say, Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! Thanks for your input.

Doc D said...

I read that over 80% of Americans have no understanding of the biological effects of ionizing radiation. What we understand the least, we fear the most, it seems.

Post a Comment


What I'm Reading - Updated 3 May

Blog Archive