Possible link found between x-rays and prostate cancer

July 31, 2008

Past diagnostic radiation procedures may be associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer among younger men, according to researchers from the United Kingdom.

Past diagnostic radiation procedures may be associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer among younger men, according to researchers from the United Kingdom.

The study, published in the British Journal of Cancer (2008; 98:1852-6), showed that men who had had a hip or pelvic x-ray or barium enema 10 years previously were 2.5 times more likely to develop prostate cancer than the general population was. In addition, the link appeared to be stronger in men who had a family history of the disease.

“Although these results show some increase in the risk of developing prostate cancer in men who had previously had certain radiological medical tests, we want to reassure men that the absolute risks are small and there is no proof that the radiological tests actually caused any of the cancers,” said lead author Kenneth Muir, PhD, of The University of Nottingham.

The study included 431 men diagnosed with prostate cancer before the age of 60 years. Their exposure to radiation was part of normal medical procedures that had been performed 5, 10, or 20 years before their cancer diagnosis. Procedures included hip and leg x-rays and barium meals and enemas.

At this stage, the evidence linking diagnostic radiation procedures and prostate cancer is weak, researchers admit. Research suggests that further investigation should be undertaken.