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A. A New Study Links X-Rays To High Death Rates

Narrator: This is Science Today. A renowned radiation expert says the overuse of medical x-rays is responsible for more than half the deaths from cancer and heart disease. Dr. John Gofman of the University of California, Berkeley led an intensive analysis of death rates going back to 1940, comparing them to areas heavily populated with physicians. While all other causes of death declined in these areas, all other causes of death rose. The reason he says, is the prevalence of medical x-rays.

Gofman: X-rays are a mutagen. They cause mutations. In the cancer, it's the cell that becomes mutated and becomes a cancer. In the heart disease, our view is that it's the cells that are supposed to do the clean up work in the arteries - those cells get mutated and don't do their job.

Narrator: Gofman doesn't discount diet and lifestyle choices or the fact that x-rays are needed as a diagnostic tool.

Gofman: My point is, medical radiation can be reduced if we will just start measuring the doses.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.