Friday, January 29, 2016


The Windsor Star keeps promoting Dr. Gifford-Jones and I have to keep scratching my head as to why? ( ). He's just as nutty as Dr. Oz and promotes misunderstanding of science and likes to fear-monger. Here's a debunking of one of his past articles to show you the level of ignorance we are playing with: .

In this latest article, Jones decides to take old news from 2012 and try to make it new again. He exaggerates the risks. In the actual study ( you'll note that the researchers plainly state right in the second paragraph "The study does not prove that dental x-rays cause these tumors". I'm guessing Gifford missed that (note sarcasm). 

You'll also note this as well "The study has some drawbacks that make the link between dental x-rays and meningiomas far from certain. Perhaps most importantly, it relied on participants’ memories about their history of dental x-rays (rather than on dental records themselves)." This makes it very inaccurate and hard to trust the information due to recall bias and the fallibility of the human mind (consider just how poor people remember even minutes after an accident or crime when police get stories from eyewitnesses). 

Now let's figure out the actual risk. I'll be honest here and say I'm horrible at math, so if someone can check and make sure it's correct me if I'm wrong. The point though will still be that the risk is extremely low even with any slight errors. It is estimated according to the University of California that 6500 people in the USA are diagnosed with meningioma. The study was done in 2012, so the population of the USA was 314.1 million. So this gives us a risk of 0.000002% of the population which is extremely low. So if we input the 4.9 times as likely we get the original risk of 0.0000098% of the population. We are dealing with very low risks here, so doubling one's risk of a low number, is still low.

Now while it's true you never want to do more xrays then necessary, there are certain other factors that you should keep in mind that are problematic with the study. As noted by the ADA ( the study did not appear to be dose related, which one would think would be important (dose make the poison) and that there have been advances in xray technology and imaging which reduces the risk even further (again consider the study was a recall from people aged 20-79 which included remember when they were younger then 10, so that can put the time frame between 1943-2002 for technology, which in itself is very expansive). 

So I urge the Windsor Star to get an actual science/health editor to help prevent nonsense like that Gifford-Jones promotes and to present some real journalism.

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