Dr. Russell Blaylock is a nationally recognized board-certified neurosurgeon, health practitioner, author, lecturer, and editor of The Blaylock Wellness Report.
The growing outrage over the Transportation Security Administration’s new policy of backscatter scanning of airline passengers and “enhanced pat-downs” brings to mind these wise words from President Ronald Reagan: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.’”
So, what is all the concern really about — will these radiation scanners increase your risk of cancer or other diseases? A group of scientists and professors from the University of California at San Francisco voiced their concern to Obama’s science and technology adviser John Holdren in a well-stated letter back in April.
The group included experts in radiation biology, biophysics, and imaging, who expressed “serious concerns” about the “dangerously high” dose of radiation to the skin.
Radiation increases cancer risk by damaging the DNA and various components within the cells. Much of the damage is caused by high concentrations of free radicals generated by the radiation. Most scientists think that the most damaging radiation types are those that have high penetration, such as gamma-rays, but in fact, some of the most damaging radiation barely penetrates the skin.
One of the main concerns is that most of the energy from the airport scanners is concentrated on the surface of the skin and a few millimeters into the skin. Some very radiation-sensitive tissues are close to the skin — such as the testes, eyes, and circulating blood cells in the skin.
This is why defenders using such analogies as the dose being “1,000-times less than a chest X-ray” and “far less than what passengers are exposed to in-flight” are deceptive. Radiation damage depends on the volume of tissue exposed. Chest X-rays and gamma-radiation from outer space is diffused over the entire body so that the dose to the skin is extremely small. Of note, outer space radiation does increase cancer rates in passengers, pilots, and flight attendants.
We also know that certain groups of people are at a much higher risk than others. These include babies, small children, pregnant women, the elderly, people with impaired immunity (those with HIV infection, cancer patients, people with immune deficiency diseases, and people with abnormal DNA repair mechanism, just to name a few).
As we grow older, our DNA accumulates a considerable amount of unrepaired damage, and under such circumstances even low doses of radiation can trigger the development of skin cancers, including the deadly melanoma. I would also be concerned about exposing the eyes, since this could increase one’s risk of developing cataracts.
About 5 percent of the population have undiagnosed abnormal DNA repair mechanism. When exposed to radiation, this can put them at a cancer risk hundreds of times greater than normal people.