Friday, February 5, 2010

X Ray Backscatter Again

In January we wrote a piece on the dangers of X Ray Backscatter scanners at airports especially for people who have a genetic pre-disposition for malignant melanoma. This is a concern because these people had already several hits in melanocytes which have taken certain cells down the path to malignancy and the cells, more than 2 billion per person, are surface cells and subject to the most sever radiation.

Today there is a report in Bloomberg raising the issue. They open with the following:

Air passengers should be made aware of the health risks of airport body screenings and governments must explain any decision to expose the public to higher levels of cancer-causing radiation, an inter-agency report said.

Pregnant women and children should not be subject to scanning, even though the radiation dose from body scanners is “extremely small,” said the Inter-Agency Committee on Radiation Safety report, which is restricted to the agencies concerned and not meant for public circulation. The group includes the European Commission, International Atomic Energy Agency, Nuclear Energy Agency and the World Health Organization.

This is nothing new. The dynamics of Compton backscatter are a bit complex at the molecular level but simply put this is what happens:

1. In certain individuals with a genetic predisposition, say a dysplastic nevus syndrome, may already have a few initiating genetic defects.

2. Melanocytes reside at the basal layer of the skin and they are a few tenths of a micron from the surface.

3. The x rays collide with the outer electrons on the DNA of the melanocyte knocking out the electron and setting it up for methylation.

4. The methylated DNA then blocks a second or third genetic pathway which blocks a tumor suppressor gene.

5. The loss of these genes result in cancer, uncontrolled clonal growth.

Simple, and the use of frequent Compton backscatter just increases the risks exponentially. That's one way to get rid of the old folk, radiate them during their working life so they never get old! An added element or shall we call is a benefit of the new health care plan.