Dr. Al Danenberg ● Nutritional Periodontist
November 25, 2019
By my count, five dentists over the age of 60 died of glioblastomas in my town over the last three years. The number of dentists over 60 years old practicing in SC is approximately 510. I estimated the incidence of dentists dying from this brain cancer for this age group in my town to be 0.33% annually. The incidence of yearly deaths from glioblastomas in the general population over the age of 60 is 0.003%. The incidence of these brain cancer deaths in dentists in SC is 110 times more than in the similar age group of the general population in the US!
My question is a resounding, “Why?”
You have heard my story. I have an advanced stage of multiple myeloma, which is incurable by conventional modern oncology today. I am now 72 years old. As a dentist, and from research that I have found, I believe this bone marrow cancer of my plasma cells was directly and partly related to my continuous exposure to dental x-rays while in dental school. Dental training lasted for 4 years and then graduate periodontal training for an additional 2 years. My extended exposure was in the early 1970s. It is important to note that dental x-rays are a form of low-dose ionizing radiation.
It was once thought that high-dose ionizing radiation was the only radiation that caused permanent damage in humans. Most of this research came from medical results after studying exposed individuals from the nuclear bomb that was dropped in Japan in 1945 and also from the Chernobyl Nuclear disaster in Ukraine in 1986. However, newer studies have shown that low-dose radiation from these disasters and from dental and medical diagnostic x-rays are more damaging if they are cumulative. And the destruction from cumulative exposure might not manifest for three or more decades from the initial exposures.
Interestingly, the cells in individuals that survived exposure to low doses could accumulate damages that later manifested in their children. These life-threatening changes are chromosomal aberrations in both cells that were directly irradiated and not directly irradiated. It appears that complex tissue reactions cause damage to cells that are distant from the cells directly exposed.
In a paper published in 2012 in the publication Cancer, people who received frequent dental x-rays in the past had an increased risk of developing brain tumors. Also, some inherent risk factors for many types of cancers include various degrees of prior radiotherapy, an unhealthy gut microbiome, depressed immune system, as well as some DNA susceptibility.
The research that is being presented today must be understood and taken to heart. A 2018 research paper published in Environmental Health and Toxicology summarizes some of the studies that have shown the potential cancer risks of frequent dental x-rays.
We need to be aware of the potential health risks because manifestations of cancers could result decades after repeated exposure to dental and medical x-rays. What appears to be happening to our cells from the accumulating exposure to dental and medical x-rays include:
- Damage to the gut microbiome, its metabolites, and the gut epithelial barrier
- Creation of oxidative stress and free radicals in exposed cells
- Communication between cells through various biological modalities
- Upregulating and downregulating cancer genes through diet and lifestyle habits
- Transfer of DNA predispositions to our children and their children
What To Do?
There is no potential cure for many of the cancers caused by ionizing radiation. It is critical that we be proactive to try to avoid and certainly reduce any exposure to ionizing radiation if possible. Consider changing your lifestyle and nutrition so that you are helping your immune system to function at peak performance. Also, avoid all routine dental and medical x-rays that are not necessary to make a diagnosis of a treatable problem.
Since cancers are also a disease of mitochondrial dysfunction, investigate methods to repair and enhance the mitochondria. These include incorporating a nutrient-dense anti-inflammatory diet, high-intensity interval exercises, fasting (intermittent and multiday), ingestion of an abundance of cruciferous vegetables, and PEMF (Pulsed ElctroMagnetic Field) Therapy. In addition, avoid the direct exposure from dirty electromagnetic fields from cell phones and computer screens close to the body, which have been shown to damage mitochondrial function.
Medical and dental x-rays could be significant in determining the proper diagnosis and efficient course of treatment for many diseases and traumatic injuries. But they only should be performed when an appropriate healthcare professional has determined they would provide critical information. If there is no medical necessity that is evident, then I believe that routine and frequent exposure to low-dose radiation from these x-rays is potentially cancer producing months or decades after the accumulation of exposures. You must be proactive in your healthcare decisions. Do your research.