Routine diagnostic X-ray examinations and increased frequency of chromosome translocations among U.S. radiologic technologists

Alice J. Sigurdson, Parveen Bhatti, Dale L. Preston, Michele Morin Doody, Diane Kampa, Bruce H. Alexander, Dayton Petibone, Lee C. Yong, Alan A. Edwards, Elaine Ron, James D. Tucker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The U.S. population has nearly one radiographic examination per person per year, and concern about cancer risks associated with medical radiation has increased. Radiologic technologists were surveyed to determine whether their personal cumulative exposure to diagnostic X-rays was associated with increased frequencies of chromosome translocations, an established radiation biomarker and possible intermediary suggesting increased cancer risk. Within a large cohort of U.S. radiologic technologists, 150 provided a blood sample for whole chromosome painting and were interviewed about past X-ray examinations. The number and types of examinations reported were converted to a red bone marrow (RBM) dose score with units that approximated 1 mGy. The relationship between dose score and chromosome translocation frequency was assessed using Poisson regression. The estimated mean cumulative RBM radiation dose score was 49 (range, 0-303). After adjustment for age, translocation frequencies significantly increased with increasing RBM dose score with an estimate of 0.004 translocations per 100 cell equivalents per score unit (95% confidence interval, 0.002-0.007; P < 0.001). Removing extreme values or adjustment for gender, cigarette smoking, occupational radiation dose, allowing practice X-rays while training, work with radioisotopes, and radiotherapy for benign conditions did not affect the estimate. Cumulative radiation exposure from routine X-ray examinations was associated independently with increased chromosome damage, suggesting the possibility of elevated long-term health risks, including cancer. The slope estimate was consistent with expectation based on cytogenetic experience and atomic bomb survivor data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8825-8831
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Research
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1 2008


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