Frequent, Older Dental X-Rays Linked to Brain Cancer

Increased risk seen with frequent bitewings in old machines and panorex films in young children

TUESDAY, April 10 (HealthDay News) -- Frequent bitewing or panorex dental X-rays taken on previous generations of machines are linked to an increased risk of intracranial meningioma, according to a study published online April 10 in Cancer.

Elizabeth B. Claus, M.D., Ph.D., of Yale University in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues conducted a case-control study of 1,433 patients throughout the United States who were diagnosed with intracranial meningioma. The patients, diagnosed at ages 20 to 79 years, were matched to 1,350 controls based on age, sex, and geography. Participants self-reported having had bitewing, full-mouth, and panorex dental X-rays.

The researchers found that cases were more than twice as likely as controls to report ever having had a bitewing examination in their lifetime. The elevated risk of meningioma existed in individuals who reported receiving bitewing films on a yearly basis or more frequently, regardless of their age at which the films were obtained: <10 years (odds ratio [OR], 1.4; 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.0 to 1.8); 10 to 19 years (OR, 1.6; 95 percent CI, 1.2 to 2.0); 20 to 49 years (OR, 1.9; 95 percent CI, 1.4 to 2.6); and ≥40 years (OR, 1.5; 95 percent CI, 1.1 to 2.0). A 4.9-times increased risk of meningioma was found with panorex films taken in patients younger than 10 years of age, on a yearly basis, or with greater frequency. There was no association found with tumor location above or below the tentorium.

"Exposure to some dental X-rays performed in the past, when radiation exposure was greater than in the current era, appears to be associated with an increased risk of intracranial meningioma," the authors write.

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