ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Know Your Asthma Triggers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Green Tea May Help Brain Cope With Sleep Disorders
New Insights Show Ginseng Fights Inflammation
Acupuncture Eases Side Effects of Head, Neck Cancer Treatments
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Safe Toys for Dogs
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Fruits and Veggies May Strengthen Bones
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
A Little Drink May Be Good for Your Bones
CANCER
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Wristbands May Lessen Nausea After Radiation
Gene Studies Reveal Cancer's Secrets
CAREGIVING
Recession Scrambling Health Spending in U.S.
Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome
Baby's Sleep Position May Not Affect Severity of Head Flattening
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
COSMETIC
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
DENTAL, ORAL
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
DIABETES
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Boosts Death Risk for Diabetics
Whole Grains Take a Bite Out of Type 2 Diabetes Risk
Spices, Herbs Boost Health for Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
Pesticides and How to Affordably Eat Organic or Reduce Pesticide Consumption
Omega-3 May Reduce Endometriosis Risk
Fruits, Vegetables, Teas May Cut Smokers' Cancer Risk
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
1976 Italian Dioxin Release Damaged Babies' Thyroids
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Population-Based Strategy Urged to Cut U.S. Obesity Rate
EYE CARE, VISION
Retinal Gene Is Linked to Childhood Blindness
FDA Goes After Unapproved Eye Washes, Skin Ointments
Sports Eye Injuries Leading Cause of Blindness in Youths
FITNESS
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Exercise Guards White Blood Cells Against Aging
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
Play Creatively as a Kid, Be a Healthier Adult
Hand-Washing Habits Still Need Improvement: Survey Says
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
B-Vitamins Help Protect Against Stroke, Heart Disease
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
St. John's Wort Doesn't Work for ADHD
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
Quick Orthopedic Repair Can Save Young Shoulders
MEN'S HEALTH
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Worries About Weight Are Tied to Teen Suicide Tries
Reminiscing Helps Build Emotional Strength
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
SENIORS
Money May Matter, Health-Wise, in Old Age
Friends, Not Grandkids, Key to Happy Retirement
Boost In Elderly Population Will Be Felt Worldwide
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
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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