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Ionizing radiation boosts cardiovascular disease death risk

Exposure to low-dose ionizing radiation increases risk of cardiovascular death, a study published in 2009 in International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health suggests.

Ionizing radiation such as x-ray used in medical diagnostic tools and cancer treatment has already been known to boost cancer risk. But the cardiovascular risk from ionizing radiation is not as widely publicized as its cancer risk.

The study led by Zielinski J.M. and colleagues of Health Canada in Ottawa, Canada found those who were occupationally exposed to ionizing radiation such as employees at nuclear power stations, medical, dental, and industrial workers were more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than those  in the general population in Canada.

The study involved 337,397 individuals who were occupationally exposed to ionizing radiation and included in the National Dose Registry of Canada.

During the study period between 1951 and 1995, 3533 deaths from cardiovascular diseases have been recorded.

Those who were exposed to higher cumulative doses of ionizing radiation were found more likely to die from cardiovascular disease.  Their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease was even higher than those reported in the studies of Japanese atomic bomb survivors.

"The study has demonstrated a strong positive association between radiation dose and the risk of CVD mortality. Caution needs to be exercised when interpreting these results, due to the potential bias introduced by dosimetry uncertainties, the possible record linkage errors, and especially by the lack of adjustment for non-radiation risk factors." the researchers concluded.

Jimmy Downs