ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Pain-Relieving Powers of Acupuncture Unclear
Quit Smoking the Holistic Way
Fish Oil's Benefits Remain Elusive
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Yoga Can Ease Lower Back Pain
Sea Worm Inspires Novel Bone Glue
More Faces Being Spared in Motor Vehicle Accidents
CANCER
Minorities Distrust Medical System More
Wristbands May Lessen Nausea After Radiation
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
CAREGIVING
Mild Flu Season Coming to a Close
Timing May Matter in Organ Donation Decisions
U.S. Mental Health Spending Rises, But Many Still Left Out
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
Bad Marriages Harder on Women's Health
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
COSMETIC
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
A Sweet Way to Shield Baby's Teeth
DIABETES
Chamomile Tea May Ward Off Diabetes Damage
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
'Standard' Glucose Test May Be Wrong One for Obese Children
DIET, NUTRITION
Omega-3 May Reduce Endometriosis Risk
Quick Weight Loss May Be Best for Long-Term Success
Mediterranean Diet May Help Prevent Depression
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Database Helps Assess Your Breast Cancer Risk
Pregnant Rural Women More at Risk
Home Renovations by Affluent Families Can Unleash Lead Threat
EYE CARE, VISION
Hybrid Cars Pose Risk to Blind, Visually Impaired
FDA Goes After Unapproved Eye Washes, Skin Ointments
Eye Problems, Hearing Loss May Be Linked
FITNESS
Diet, Exercise May Slow Kidney Disease Progression
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
GENERAL HEALTH
Hoping for a Happy Family Holiday? Here's How
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Cocaine Spurs Long-Term Change in Brain Chemistry
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Omega-3, Some Omega-6 Fatty Acids Boost Cardiovascular Health
Cherry-Enriched Diet Cut Heart Risks in Rats
Chinese Red Yeast Rice May Prevent Heart Attack
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Wood Fires Can Harm the Youngest Lungs
Scorpion Anti-Venom Speeds Children's Recovery
Stomach Germ May Protect Against Asthma
MEN'S HEALTH
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Countdown to Hair Loss
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
MENTAL HEALTH
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
How to Attack Holiday Stress Head-On
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
SENIORS
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
Exercise Benefits Even the Oldest Old
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
Supportive Weigh-In Program Keeps Pounds Off
Vitamin D Good for Breast Cancer Patients
Add your Article

Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts

Since the thwarted Christmas day terrorist attack on an airline flight approaching Detroit, officials have announced plans to increase the use of fully body scans at U.S. airports, leaving some travelers wondering about the health effects of these devices.

Will this effort to detect smuggled explosives and weapons expose passengers to excess levels of radiation? Experts say no.

Two types of scans -- millimeter wave scanners and backscatter scanners -- are being used in the United States.

Millimeter wave scanners, which use radio waves, have no proven adverse health effects and don't expose passengers to any X-rays, but they haven't been widely studied. Backscatter scanners use extremely low levels of X-rays.

"A passenger would need to be scanned using a backscatter scanner, from both the front and the back, about 200,000 times to receive the amount of radiation equal to one typical CT scan," said Dr. Andrew J. Einstein, director of cardiac CT research at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.

"Another way to look at this is that if you were scanned with a backscatter scanner every day of your life, you would still only receive a tenth of the dose of a typical CT scan," he said.

By comparison, the amount of radiation from a backscatter scanner is equivalent to about 10 minutes of natural background radiation in the United States, Einstein said. "I believe that the general public has nothing to worry about in terms of the radiation from airline scanning," he added.

For moms-to-be, no evidence supports an increased risk of miscarriage or fetal abnormalities from these scanners, Einstein added.

"A pregnant woman will receive much more radiation from cosmic rays she is exposed to while flying than from passing through a scanner in the airport," he said.

The extent of penetration from backscatter systems is pretty shallow, explained another expert, David A. Schauer, executive director of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements. "With backscatter systems, the X-rays do not penetrate to depths much beyond the surface of the individual, so they are useful for imaging objects hidden under clothing, but are not useful for detecting objects hidden in body cavities."

Richard Morin, a medical physicist at the Mayo Clinic, said the real issue for passengers might be privacy, not safety.

"From a radiation standpoint there has been no evidence that there is really any untoward effect from the use of this device [backscatter scanner], so I would not be concerned about it from a radiation dose standpoint -- the issues of personal privacy are a different thing," he said.

The health effects of the more common millimeter-wave scanners are largely unknown, and at least one expert believes a safety study is warranted.

"I am very interested in performing a National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements study on the use of millimeter-wave security screening systems," said Thomas S. Tenforde, council president.

"I think it would be helpful to convene an expert panel to prepare a concise summary of the health and safety issues associated with the use of this type of security screening system," he said.

Forty millimeter-wave scanners are operating at 19 airports, according to the U.S. Transportation Safety Administration (TSA), which says the machines produce 10,000 times less energy than a cell phone. "We, and all objects around us, generate millimeter wave energy, and we are exposed to it every single day," the agency reported.

The TSA also plans to buy 150 backscatter scanners.

Passengers, meanwhile, have the right to refuse a full body scan. But if they do so, they will be patted-down by a TSA agent, the agency says.

SOURCES: David A. Schauer, Sc.D., executive director, and Thomas S. Tenforde, Ph.D., president, National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, Bethesda, Md.; Richard Morin, Ph.D., medical physicist, Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla; Andrew J. Einstein, M.D., Ph.D.,director, cardiac CT research, Columbia University Medical Center, New York City Published on: January 08, 2010