Can X-Rays Harm Our Body?

X-rays can be Fatal

There are different forms of radiations which are the transmission of energy in particle or wave forms through a material medium of space. X-rays were discovered in 1895 by W. Roentgen in Germany. He named the rays he discovered X-ray” with “X” as the unknown in mathematics. X-rays are a type of electromagnetic radiation, as is visible light, however with some distinctive attributes. This is ionizing radiation used in many applications including medical imaging (“conventional radiography”) and crystallography. The critical distinction is that X-rays can infiltrate or go through the human body and produce shadow-like pictures of structures, for example, bones, a percentage of the organs, and indications of ailment and damage. X ray is a tremendous discovery of science which is used to see across solid materials of human bodies. X-rays help to diagnose and detect the problem inside a human body when the bare eyes cannot see through. It has helped doctors and physicians since 1895 and has become an aid for the mankind.

X-rays are a blessing!

Scanography with X-rays is very quick, it takes only a few seconds and the spatial resolution is excellent. It is a blessing to the medical world, the X-ray technology is a tool of great value for medicine, industry, scientific research and security. For example, it can be used to monitor bone fractures and swallowed objects, to monitor blood flow of patients and to check for cavities. X-rays was to provide physicians the tools increasingly accurate and helpful to find the causes of diseases (Department of Health) ( Knowledge of radiation has also enabled the treatment or relief of several cancers. Furthermore, X-rays can be used to diagnose cancer, killing bacteria in the food. Like every coin has two sides, some drawbacks arise from the use of radiation. The dangers of exposure to X- rays have been shown a few years after the discovery of X-rays in 1895. (Fitzpatrick)

Harmful Effects of X=rays

X-rays are ionizing radiation that can pass through the body and have very harmful effects on health for long periods of exposure or repeated and high intensities: cutaneous, ophthalmology, hematology, cell cause cancer, fetal malformations. (IAEA) The main applications are medical uses (diagnostic radiology and radiotherapy), industrial (non-destructive testing) and scientific (laboratories) and the number of X-ray generating equipment is constantly increasing. Protection against radiation X is imperative, as the collective prevention (periodic testing of units, training in their use, demarcation and signaling emission zones, shields) than by individual prevention (Dosimetry, medical supervision reinforced protective equipment harbor)

The biological effects of low-dose X-rays are not really established and are the subject of much debate in the medical community. However the effects of exposure to a high dose are known and can be dangerous. The use of X-rays in medicine has many advantages, but is very harmful to the body. Indeed a proton can pass through a cell, change the functions of the cell and therefore of the tissues. This same proton can also cause mutations in the DNA molecule. Moreover, one can also notice that certain phenomena depend on the dose to the body. And, from a 100 rem intestine can no longer ensure the digestion, this therefore causes nausea and diarrhea. The radiation can also destroy the immune system. At this stage there is less than two months to live if the patient is not in care in a hospital. One notices that the death of a patient occurs at around 1000 rem (10 Sv) following vascular damage. In high-dose effect a person is subject to two types of action, the direct, indirect one. To explain these two events must be a reminder about the contents of a cell.

All human cells are composed of a membrane, the cytoplasm (water supply) and a core, each core contains the entire genetic information, i.e., DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). DNA consists of two strands which form a double helix. The two strands are composed of sugar phosphate, and they are connected by nitrogenous bases which operate in pairs and binds guanine with cytosine and thymine binds with adenine. The shape is more nucleotides of the genes. They are the protein manufacturing plan. When cells are exposed to X-rays, they create ions which break the DNA at the level of the strands or nitrogen bases. Marie Curie and her daughter Irene died of leukemia caused by huge doses of radiation received during the numerous experiments they conducted on artificial radioactivity (Society). All training cells (fetus, child) are hypersensitive to radiation and the genetic potential included in the genitals; the consequences of radiation exposure may be congenital malformations for exposed fetus, especially during the first 12 weeks of gestation. In high doses, radiation kills cells of the human body and a continuous or repeated exposure predisposes to cancer formation.  

Ionizing radiation in high doses can cause many side effects known as “radiation dermatitis.” These doses are not achieved in the context of diagnostic imaging. However, the side effects of low doses are much less known, especially the appearance of genetic mutations and cancer because they can occur long after exposure and does not differ from natural conditions. However, there is no evidence that diagnostic imaging may be the cause of cancer. Because of this uncertainty, international and national agencies use the “precautionary principle” to establish regulations, as if there were, even at low doses, a linear relationship between dose and risk. The ionizing radiation (X-rays and gamma rays in particular) can induce many cancers (lung, thyroid, breast, brain, pleura, and leukemia) and that the frequent X-rays increase the risk of breast cancer and may other cancers. However, these tests are increasingly common. (FDA)

To understand the complexity of the problem, be aware that medical imaging is not the only source of exposure to ionizing radiation. We are exposed daily to low doses of ionizing radiation from many sources: the air we breathe, soil, cosmic radiation, building materials, water, food, and so on. A radiograph of the abdomen delivers approximately 0.4 mSv almost two months of exposure to natural radiation. A barium enema is about 2.5 mSv a year of exposure to natural radiation. Skull CT gives about 2 mSv or 10 months of exposure to natural radiation. An abdominal CT May to October mSv two to four years of exposure to natural radiation. Hence no radiation dose, inconsiderable of how small it may be cannot be considered safe. We must keep the hazards in mind and try to avoid exposure to radiation as much as we can for having a healthy life. Only precaution can help us save ourselves from exposure that could harm our body.

Work Cited

Department of Health, Western Australia. How Safe are Medical x-rays? Environmental Health Directorate. Nedlands: Environmental Health Directorate, 2006. 1 March 2015. <>.

FDA. What are the Radiation Risks from CT? New Hampshire Avenue: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2015. 1 March 2015. <>.

Fitzpatrick, Mark. “Advantages & Disadvantages of X-Rays.” eHow n.d. 1 March 2015. <>.

IAEA. IAEA Radiation Protection of Patients. Vienna: IAEA, 2013. 1 March 2015. <>. “X-rays: Advantages and Disadvantages.” 23 May 2013. 1 March 2015. <>.

Society, American Cancer. “X-rays, Gamma Rays, and Cancer Risk.” Medical. 2013. 1 March 2015. <>.

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