Friday, January 30, 2004

Study in The Lancet Estimates Cancer Risks from X-Rays

Research published in the January 31 edition of The Lancet offers estimates of the incidence of cancer in industrialized countries attributable to medical x-rays. The estimates are not based on direct epidemiological studies of x-rayed populations, but instead represent extrapolations based on data from studies of A-bomb survivors. X-rays reportedly account for about 14% of all human exposure to radiation, and the researchers calculate that x-rays are responsible for causing 0.9% of all cancers in the United States. They emphasize that the medical benefits of x-rays greatly outweigh the risks. But at the same time, studies have suggested that an estimated 30% of all chest x-rays are medically unnecessary.

The full text of the study is available online for paid subscribers to The Lancet. If you're not a subscriber, you can get the story from the Times of London, or BBC News, or The Independent, or various other sources.
Fed. R. Evid. 702: If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if (1) the testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data, (2) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and (3) the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.