A new study suggests that multiple CT scans in childhood can triple the risk of developing brain cancer or leukaemia.
The Newcastle University-led team examined the NHS medical records of almost 180,000 young patients in UK.
Writing in The Lancet the authors emphasized that the benefits of the scans usually outweighed the risks.
They said the study underlined the fact the scans should only be used when necessary and that ways of cutting their radiation should be pursued.
During a CT (computerized tomography) scan, an X-ray tube rotates around the patient’s body to produce detailed images of internal organs and other parts of the body.
In the first long-term study of its kind, the researchers looked at the records of patients aged under 21 who had CT scans at a range of British hospitals between 1985 and 2002.
Because radiation-related cancer takes time to develop, they examined data on cancer cases and mortality up until 2009.
A new study suggests that multiple CT scans in childhood can triple the risk of developing brain cancer or leukaemia
Brain cancer and leukaemia are rare diseases.
The study estimated that the increased risk translated into one extra case of leukaemia and one extra brain tumour among 10,000 CT head scans of children aged under ten.
Dr. Mark Pearce, an epidemiologist from Newcastle University who led the study, said: “We found significant increases in the risk of leukaemia and brain tumors, following CT in childhood and young adulthood.
“The immediate benefits of CT outweigh the risks in many settings.
“Doses have come down dramatically over time – but we need to do more to reduce them. This should be a priority for the clinical community and manufacturers.”
CT scans are useful for children because anaesthesia and sedation are not required.
This type of check is often ordered after serious accidents, to look for internal injuries, and for finding out more about possible lung disease.
Regulations on their use in the UK mean CT scans should only be done when clinically justified – and the researchers said their study underlined that point.
Professor Sir Alan Craft, a co-author and leading expert in child health, said: “The important thing is that parents can be reassured that if a doctor in the UK suggests a child should have a CT scan, the radiation and cancer risks will have been taken into account.
“There’s a much greater risk of not doing a CT scan when it’s suggested.
“This study will push us to be even more circumspect about using it. We have much stricter rules here about using CT than in the United States, for example.”
Etta James, the US soul singer best known for the tracks At Last and for I’d Rather Go Blind, has died aged 73.
It was announced last year that Etta James had been diagnosed with leukaemia and was undergoing treatment.
Etta James began singing in a group aged 14, before she embarked upon a solo career where she signed to the legendary Chess Records label.
The singer went on to win six Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.
Legendary producer Jerry Wexler once called her “the greatest of all modern blues singers”.
Etta James’ manager said she died at Riverside Community Hospital in California with her husband and sons at her side.
“It’s a tremendous loss for her fans around the world,” Lupe De Leon said.
“She’ll be missed. A great American singer. Her music defied category.”
Etta James began singing in a group aged 14, before she embarked upon a solo career where she signed to the legendary Chess Records label
Born Jamesetta Hawkins in 1938, her mother was only 14 years old, and she never knew her father.
Raised mainly by friends and relatives, Etta James began singing when her grandparents took her to a Baptist Church, where she joined the choir as a soloist.
Later, in San Francisco, she formed a singing group called the Creolettes, who were discovered by bandleader Johnny Otis, who coincidentally also died this week.
The band recorded together for a number of years but it was not until 1960, when Etta James signed to the legendary Chess Records as a solo artist, that she began to achieve musical recognition.
It was for this label that Etta James released her two most acclaimed albums, At Last and The Second Time Around.
The former included her impassioned cover of Muddy Waters’ I Just Want To Make Love To You, which is considered the predominant interpretation of the song – and gave Etta James her biggest chart hit in the UK, landing at number five in 1996 after it was featured in an advert for Diet Coke.
However, her success in the 1960s was hindered by an addiction to heroin, and she was forced to rebuild her career after quitting the drug in 1974.
Although Etta James was popular on the R&B and blues scene throughout her career, mainstream success eluded her for many years.
Etta James did not receive her first Grammy Award until 1994, for the album Mystery Lady, which consisted of covers of Billie Holiday songs. In 2003, Etta James was given the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.