Radiation Risks: How Much Is Too Much – Interview With Doctors

Sarfraz Ahmad   by Sarfraz Ahmad, MD, Radiology    Last updated on June 10, 2021,

Radiation risk is a well-established fact in science that is generally known to the common public as one of the causes of cancer. Whether it was the Chernobyl explosion or Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bomb explosions in the past that caused an exponential human loss, each of them involved one or the other forms of radiation.

The discovery of X-rays (a form of radiation) in 1895 by Wilhelm Roentgen, revolutionized the world of modern medicine in diagnostic spectra. However, every facility has some risks associated with it and X-rays are no exception. Generally, people are not aware about radiation risks. But as the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, exponential use of CT Scan was seen among the patients which may pose a greater threat of associated radiation risks. A recent statement by the Director of AIIMS regarding the alarming risk of radiations due to increased use of CT scans raised enormous doubts in the minds of the common public.

Everyone should keep in mind that even poison used in the right quantity works as medicine and this also holds true with the radiations. There is a certain limit for utilizing radiations beyond which the radiations pose a risk of cancer. However, the risk is minimal compared to other things in our daily life i.e. air and water pollution, smoking, etc. We receive background radiation from the earth which is nearly 3mSv which is equivalent to a chest CT Scan. Millisievert (mSv) is the unit of measurement of radiation as Kg is the unit of weighing mass.

To the common public, a single X-ray gives radiation of nearly 0.02 mSv and a chest CT causes ~ 3mSv. Many studies suggest that radiations used in excess amounts i.e. ~100 mSv are responsible for cancer associated with medical imaging (X- rays, CT). Fortunately, none of the diagnostic procedures deliver this much radiation to the patients. At least ~34 chest CTs in one sitting needed to pose an individual to the risk of cancer is too less than the risk caused by environmental pollution and smoking.

The common public should not have a fear of the cancer risks posed by the radiations used in modern medicine. Diagnosis is necessary to treat an individual and without a proper diagnosis, there are more chances that the individuals may face some grievous outcomes other than the risk associated with the radiations if any. Always take the advice of an expert in the concerned field before reaching any conclusion and avoid losses that may occur due to misinformation and cannot be repaired if not rectified in due time.

Sarfraz Ahmad

Dr. Sarfraz Ahmad, MD, Radiology, worked at All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS), New Delhi in past. He moved to Sanjay Gandhi PGI, Lucknow, in 2019 for further work and studies in Radiology. He completed his graduation from Jawahar Lal Nehru College of Medical Sciences, Aligarh, and currently works in the Radiology Department of SGPGI, Lucknow.


Dr. Sarfraz is interested in applying cutting edge technology solutions for the diagnosis and management of diseases and health conditions prevalent in Indian society. He joined DiseaseFix to live his dream of being a health advocate and create mass-level awareness in society about health problems. He writes for DiseaseFix and also conducts peer reviews as part of our Content Review Team.

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