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Younger than 76 Years-Old? Turns Out You Won’t Die from Occupational Radiation

Safety conditions have come a long way in radiology. Back in the day, radiologists who graduated before 1940 were susceptible to increased mortality rates from diseases such as myeloid leukemia, myelodysplastic syndrome, melanoma, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, all conditions related to radiation exposure. Before the emerging of technical advancements in machinery and radiation protection, radiologists were more frequently exposed to low and moderate doses of radiation, and thus in danger of developing serious ailments and disorders. Yet, safety has greatly improved over the last half of the 20th century, say researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), who recently discovered that occupational radiation doses have significantly decreased over the last handful of decades

Lead researcher Amy Berrington de González, D.Phil, chief of the Radiation Epidemiology Branch at the NCI and her colleagues scoured records from more than 1.4 million physicians, residents, and medical students since 1906 located in the American Medical Association Physician Masterfile database. They evaluated cancer incidence and mortality rates between 43,763 radiologists and 64,9900 psychiatrists who graduated from medical school between 1916 and 2006. They found that male radiologists who graduated after 1940 were in better health than their psychiatrist counterparts. There was a decreased instance of mortality and reduced risk of radiation-related disease.

"Most of the findings of increased risk were in the earlier radiologists," said Martha Linet, MD, study coauthor and senior investigator at the NCI Radiation Epidemiology Branch. "We do feel there is evidence that decreases in dose in the United States and other countries seem to have paid off, reducing risks in recent graduates."

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