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August 2, 1995

Claim That Medical X-rays Caused Most US Breast Cancers Found Incredible

JAMA. 1995;274(5):367-368. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530050013003

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A RESPECTED authority on the biological effects of ionizing radiation has just published a book claiming that the vast majority of breast cancers in the United States were caused by the high doses of medical x-rays that women often received in the decades before the carcinogenic effects of radiation were recognized.

The book, which is based on one man's study of the medical literature going back to 1910, concludes that medical x-rays are responsible for at least 62%, and probably more than 75%, of the approximately 182 000 cases of breast cancer diagnosed each year in the United States.

However, the study, which has not been peer reviewed, is not persuading leading cancer and radiation experts, who say there are major problems with some of the assumptions and conclusions of its author, John W. Gofman, MD, PhD, professor emeritus of molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley.

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