CT scans: A new cardiovascular threat
(NaturalHealth365) No doubt, a CT scan can – in many cases – be a valuable tool that allow doctors to diagnose potentially life-threatening conditions that might otherwise go undetected.
Yet, natural health experts have long maintained this method of medical imaging can raise cancer risk – although Western medicine continues to insist that CTs don’t emit enough ionizing radiation to cause the DNA damage that leads to malignancies. Unfortunately, there is evidence of a new threat.
A just-published study yields disturbing evidence that radiation from CT scans can damage arteries that supply the heart muscle – and lead to deadly heart disease.
With one out of four people in the U.S. expected to undergo a CT scan this year, it’s clear that the raised risk of heart disease from scans could affect the lives of millions. In this article, we’ll take a look at the ways in which CT scans affect arterial health, and explore natural techniques for minimizing your own risk.
CT scan warning: Repeated usage can trigger disease
A computed tomography (CT) scan is really a series of individual X-rays that are combined into one high-contrast, three-dimensional image. Some sources estimate the radiation from a single CT scan as equal to that of 200 X-rays – or, the amount one would be exposed to from natural sources over a period of seven years!
And, multiple CT scans can really rack up the radiation exposure.
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While a single CT scan emits radiation at or below 0.1 Gy – which is considered “low exposure” – repeated CT scans can put you in the neighborhood of 0.1 Gy to 2 Gy, a dose classified as “moderate.”
This is concerning, as experts say that disease-causing toxicity from radiation can result from moderate exposures.
For example, a National Cancer Institute analysis predicted that the 80 million CT scans performed in 2015 alone would eventually lead to about 29,000 new cases of cancer. According to this estimate, CT scans could be responsible for causing well over 120,000 cases to date.
It’s official: Radiation causes endothelial dysfunction
Many natural health experts maintain that CT scans are not only a cause of cancer, but of heart disease as well. Plus, recent research backs them up.
In a 2019 review published in Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, the authors reported that epidemiological data has shown that high doses of ionizing radiation lead to heart disease over time.
This occurs because radiation plays a role in endothelial cell dysfunction – damage to the fragile cell walls lining the arteries. Endothelial dysfunction can lead to potentially life-threatening cardiovascular conditions, such as atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, carotid artery disease, peripheral artery disease and ischemic stroke.
Radiation causes the formation of senescent “zombie” cells
But how, exactly, does radiation bring about such serious endothelial dysfunction? Research has shown that it contributes to the formation of senescent cells in arteries.
These damaged, obsolete cells have lost the power to reproduce themselves, and no longer contribute to normal tissue functions or repair. Instead, they become “zombie cells,” remaining in tissue and secreting a wide range of destructive chemicals that include protein-degrading enzymes and pro-inflammatory cytokines.
These damaging substances accelerate aging and contribute to degenerative diseases. In addition, senescent cells don’t respond properly to beneficial nitric oxide – which normally helps to relax and dilate arteries. As a result, arteries narrow, reducing blood circulation and driving up blood pressure.
As if this weren’t detrimental enough, senescent cells also neglect to produce anti-clotting factors, thereby increasing the risk of a catastrophic thrombosis.
Perhaps the most alarming finding to emerge is that senescence-inducing radiation occurs at lower levels than cancer-inducing radiation – and could conceivably be triggered by a mere handful of CT scans spread out over a year.
Antioxidant protocol can prevent and reverse radiation toxicity
According to board-certified cardiologist and high-dose vitamin C proponent Dr. Thomas Levy, radiation creates harmful free radicals and causes oxidative damage in endothelial cells.
But, antioxidants such as vitamin C can help to reverse this, reports Dr. Levy. As one of the most potent antioxidants on the planet, vitamin C is capable of lessening the tissue degeneration seen in nearly all diseases.
It can also work for radiation exposure, maintains Dr. Levy – as long as the damage is not too extensive. In fact, both animal and human studies have supported vitamin C’s ability to block and even reverse radiation damage.
In one study, vitamin C prevented the Cancer Risk Score (associated with radiation-damaged cells) from rising when the nutrient was administered to workmen at the site of the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan.
The dosage used in the study was a single 25-gram infusion of vitamin C, followed by 2,000 mg daily of liposomal vitamin C. Other antioxidants, including alpha lipoic acid, vitamin E and selenium, were also administered.
Dr. Levy points out that it is important to build up antioxidant reserves in the body to prevent damage from radiation. Clearly, daily supplementation with vitamin C is your best bet.
Of course, check first with your integrative physician before supplementing.
Other antioxidants with the capacity to ameliorate radiation damage include lemon balm, ginkgo biloba and spirulina algae. Lemon balm prevents oxidative stress and protects cell membranes and DNA, while boosting levels of superoxide dismutase, an important antioxidant in the body.
And, in a relatively recent study published in Pharmacognosy Magazine, ginkgo biloba reduced oxidative injury after a 5-Gray dose of radiation.
In a 2018 study, scientists found that spirulina significantly reversed changes induced by ionizing radiation in kidney function tests – leading the team to praise it as a “promising” natural agent against radiation-induced kidney injury.
Clearly, CT scans and other medical imaging procedures can help doctors identify hidden health issues, but the benefits must be weighed against the risks. And, according to some estimates, 30 to 50 percent of CT scans are medically unnecessary.
If you and your trusted doctor determine that a CT scan really is needed, natural health experts advise taking enough antioxidants beforehand to help prevent oxidative damage and minimize your risk.
Sources for this article include: