Don’t worry too much about radiation from airport X-ray screening

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Dear Concerned Member,

Due to media headlines, we at Life Extension® have been inundated by calls from members who are worried about the risks of the radiation emitted from new airport X-ray screening devices.

No organization has been more vocal about avoiding unnecessary exposure to radiation than Life Extension. We have long warned members to say NO to unnecessary X-rays and especially certain types of CT or CAT scans that can poison the body with the equivalent radiation of more than 400 regular chest X-rays.

Radiation exposure not only increases the risk of certain cancers, but also damages endothelial DNA, thus accelerating pathological atherosclerotic processes. When it comes to radiation exposure, there is no safe dose.

As far as the amount of radiation emitted from the new airport screening devices, however, the amount is so trivial that you probably should not worry about it. As you will read below, we are exposed to far more radiation as part of ordinary living — which is why it is so important to protect our precious DNA with antioxidants such as resveratrol, N-acetyl cysteine, green tea and others each day.

Here is a brief summary on the radiation emitted by X-ray airport security screening systems:

1. Naturally occurring ionizing radiation is all around us. We are continuously exposed to this background radiation during ordinary living. In 42 minutes of ordinary living, a person receives more radiation from naturally occurring sources than from screening with any general-use X-ray security system.

2. A full-body X-ray security system delivers less than the dose (of ionizing radiation) a person receives during 4 minutes of airline flight. The TSA has set the dose limit to ensure a person receives less radiation from one scan with a TSA general-use X-ray security system than from 2 minutes of airline flight.

3. Compared with a conventional CT scan, the dose of radiation generated by the airport screening system is very low. “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.”

Having said all the above, when I travel this Thanksgiving weekend, I will insist on an intrusive physical pat down as opposed to the X-ray scanners. The public has been deceived so many times by the makers of radiation equipment that I simply don’t trust their numbers. It also gives me the opportunity to educate other human beings (in this case, perfect strangers) that there is no safe dose of radiation that one should intentionally expose oneself to.

For longer life,

William Faloon


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