Dental X-Rays Increase Brain Cancer Risk. Could Antioxidants Protect?

Photo credit: Dick Thomas Johnson

A recent study in the journal Cancer concluded that the more exposure you have had to dental x-rays, the greater your chance of developing a usually benign but potentially serious brain tumor called a meningioma.  Symptomatic brain tumors of this kind cause neurological problems and must be removed with surgery.

Participants who reported yearly bite-wing x-rays had 40-90% greater chance of meningioma. People whose exposures began under age 10 and those whose overall lifetime exposures were highest were at the greatest risk.   Bite-wing x-rays and full panoramic x-rays were both linked to meningioma.

X-rays break parts of our DNA.  We have repair mechanisms for our DNA, but sometimes the repair not enough.  Damaged DNA can cause cells to grow out of control and make tumors.

Can You Protect Yourself?

If you need x-rays for good dental health, are there nutrients that have been shown to bolster DNA and cellular health against the damaging effects of radiation?

Polyphenol Antioxidants From Plants

Polyphenols are a certain category of plant antioxidant that have protected against radiation in animal studies.  Resveratrol, quercetin, and green tea, all polyphenol antioxidants, have inhibited damage due to radiation.

  • Resveratrol blocked damage caused by radiation in mouse chromosomes, and reduced damage to organs.
  • Quercetin inhibited DNA damage to human immune cells caused by x-rays.
  • In an animal study, green tea protected against hair loss from radiation exposure.  Hair follicles cells are among the most sensitive in the body to radiation damage.

Turmeric May Block Damage

Curcumin, an extract of the spice turmeric, is rapidly gaining fame for it potent anti-inflammatory properties, but it may also prove protective against the damaging effects of radiation.  It was shown to protect healthy cells from radiation.

Antioxidant Cocktail

In animals exposed to large, lethal doses of  x-rays, a combination of the antioxidant building block n-acetylcysteine (NAC) along with vitamins C and E significantly increased survival at 30 days.  Amazingly, the antioxidant cocktail worked whether the antioxidant mixture was given just before or just after exposure.

NAC is a widely available supplement that your body turns into a super antioxidant called glutathione.  VItamins C and E are important because they help recycle glutathione so that it can stay strong and active.

Anticancer Res. 2006  Radiat Res. 2008  Free Radic Res. 2009  Mutat Res. 2008  In Vivo 2003  Mutat Res. 2006  Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007  Radiat Res. 2008

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  Research and nutritional information included is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease and should not be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. Consult your physician before initiating any new dietary or supplement program. References available by request.