Answer to Question #2301 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"
Category: Radiation Effects — Genetic Effects
The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:
My husband is 48. He caught polio when he was 3. Because of this, and various other medical problems, he has had literally hundreds of x rays, the majority of which without any protective shielding. Could this have an effect on his fertility, or perhaps cause mutation in his sperm?
It is not possible to provide a really meaningful answer from the information provided. It is assumed that the you are concerned about multiple exposures to medical radiation or diagnostic x ray. First, were the testes included in the primary x-ray beam? If not, then doses to the sperm were very small. If they were, then doses were still too small to introduce any appreciable effect. Reduction of fertility is a deterministic effect of radiation, which means that there is a threshold dose below which the effect does not occur or cannot be detected. The threshold dose is much larger than those employed in diagnostic radiology. Radiation-induced mutations are theoretically possible. They have been demonstrated following high doses of radiation in experimental animals, ranging from fruit flies to rodents. They are rare events, even at high doses. They have not been detected in humans.
Conclusion: The possibility that the diagnostic radiation, even if extensive, produced reduced fertility is nonexistent. The probability of mutations is vanishingly small. Any adverse effect would be greatly outweighed by the medical benefits from these exposures.
S. Julian Gibbs, DDS, PhD
Answer posted on 9 April 2003. The information and material posted on this website is intended as general reference information only. Specific facts and circumstances may alter the concepts and applications of materials and information described herein. The information provided is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in the absence of such professional advice specific to whatever facts and circumstances are presented in any given situation. Answers are correct at the time they are posted on the Website. Be advised that over time, some requirements could change, new data could be made available, or Internet links could change. For answers that have been posted for several months or longer, please check the current status of the posted information prior to using the responses for specific applications.
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