How many times have you had a mammogram or some other diagnostic test and worried about the radiation harming you? Well now we know that you probably should not ignore your instincts. New research suggests that “women treated with radiation for breast cancer are more likely to develop heart problems later, even with the lower doses” reported CBSAtlanta on March 13th. “The study reveals that the potential harm from radiation runs deeper than many medical experts may have realized, especially for women who already have cardiac risk factors such as diabetes.”
This knowledge is crucial when a cancer patient is determining which treatment to undergo. He/she must keep in mind his/her past medical condition, how much radiation exposure he/she has already received to date, and what overall effect the new exposure would have. The new study also shows that “radiation can hurt arteries, making them prone to harden and clog and cause a heart attack.” Since chemotherapy drugs are known to harm the heart muscle, if one also chooses radiation treatments as well, then risks would also double.
Doctors say that there is “no need to panic since radiation does improve cancer survival, and that is top priority and the chances of suffering a radiation-induced heart problem is fairly small.”
The article notes that “women also can do a lot to cut their risk by keeping weight, cholesterol and blood pressure under control.” It is important to know that the patient, to some extent, still has the power to diminish the risks of heart or any other potential damage in the future by being healthy and following a regimen that isn't counterproductive. These results also suggests that caution does need to be taken when receiving even low-dosage radiation by being aware of the risks and taking precautionary measures for protection.
For example, in Ecuador doctors prescribe yogurt along with antibiotics offsetting the risks of destroying all bacteria -- good and bad. In the same way, with the doctor’s approval, natural protective measures can be taken to combat radiation exposure and this would lessen the occurrence of any future cardiac damage.