ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Acupuncture May Help Restore Lost Sense of Smell
Health Tip: Anticipating Acupuncture
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Tips to Ease an Aching Back
B Cells Can Act Alone in Autoimmune Diseases
A Little Drink May Be Good for Your Bones
CANCER
Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
Antioxidants Pose No Melanoma Threat
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
CAREGIVING
Older Caregivers Prone to Worse Sleep Patterns
Tiniest Babies Carry Biggest Costs
For Dialysis Patients, More Pills = Lower Quality of Life
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
COSMETIC
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
DENTAL, ORAL
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
DIABETES
Strict Blood Sugar Lowering Won't Ease Diabetes Heart Risk
Insulin Resistance Tied to Peripheral Artery Disease
Fish Twice a Week Cuts Diabetics' Kidney Risks
DIET, NUTRITION
Leafy Greens Top Risky Food List
Marinades Help Keep Grilled Meat Safe
Asparagus May Ease Hangover
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Pollution Particles Impair Blood Vessel Function
Air Pollution Exposure May Slow Fetal Growth
Scorpion Anti-Venom Speeds Children's Recovery
EYE CARE, VISION
Drinking Green Tea May Protect Eyes
Gene-Transfer Proves Safe for Vision Problem
Time Teaches Brain to Recognize Objects
FITNESS
Antioxidants Blunt Exercise Benefit, Study Shows
Tai Chi: An Ideal Exercise for Many People with Diabetes
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
GENERAL HEALTH
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
To Quit Smoking, Try Logging On
Uncover Why Turmeric Helps You Heal
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Polyunsaturated Fats Really May Lower Heart Risk
Western Diet Linked To Heart Disease, Metabolic Syndrome
Soy Protein Doesn't Lower Cholesterol
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Don't Leave Your Kids In The Car !
Boosting Kids' Stroke IQ May Save Lives
Standard IQ Test May Underestimate People With Autism
MEN'S HEALTH
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
MENTAL HEALTH
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
A Simple 'Thank You' Brings Rewards to All
Drink Away Dementia?
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
SENIORS
Any Old Cane Won't Do
As You Age, Better Health Means Better Sex
More Whole Grains May Mean Less Fat
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
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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