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Editor's Correspondence
May 10, 2010

Computed Tomographic Scans: Heart and Heritable Concerns Also

Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(9):835-836. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2010.118

Because the x-rays from computed tomography (CT) often irradiate the heart and the gonads, somatic atherogenic genetic damage and heritable genetic damage each deserve exploration in medical journals. Increased rates of cancer must not be the only concern.1

With respect to radiation-induced coronary artery disease, startling evidence exists for inferring that somatic mutations can initiate and/or accelerate formation of arteriosclerotic plaque and its rupture.2,3 One proposed mechanism is the production of miniature tumors of mutated, dysfunctional, genomically unstable cells in arterial tissue, resulting in atheromas having fragile fibrous caps that cannot contain thrombogenic lipid pools.3 It is urgent to evaluate such evidence, because beyond doubt, low-dose CT, fluoroscopy, and nuclear medicine increase the burden of mutations accumulated in the coronary arteries.

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