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Physics/Harmful effects From X-rays


I have to take Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), bone density study.  I, also have to take Digital mammography test.

I am concerned about the harmful effects, whether from radiation or other things. In your opinion, what are some of the best ways to protect myself; whether I should  space the tests a week apart, etc.  

Any tips will be appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

Your cells do have repair mechanisms to help fix DNA and protein problems which arise from ionizing radiation.  The doses in medical tests aren't high enough to cause significant chemical damage from basic broken bonds resulting in protein snippets themselves, and they're generally not high enough for you to have to worry about at all.  It's relatively insignificant, given the dose, but you are correct that spacing the tests apart by a couple of days will allow these processes to kick in and allow your immune systems to terminate any abnormal cells it can find in the interim...but the real thing is that your doctor might be able to diagnose you with just one of the tests, if that's what you need, and they might find the other test unnecessary.  The "reduction" in risk is like an extra one in a hundred million, but it's technically there.  I'm against waiting, because that's an extra trip to the hospital and more stress on you, but if you have an absolute need to feel you've done every last thing possible...then you already figured out what to do.  Try to wait a few days between the tests, stay calm, hydrate, get exercise, etc... the water and exercise will probably help more than anything.


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Dr. Stephen O. Nelson


I can answer most basic physics questions, physics questions about science fiction and everyday observations of physics, etc. I'm also usually good for science fair advice (I'm the regional science fair director). I do not answer homework problems. I will occasionally point out where a homework solution went wrong, though. I'm usually good at explaining odd observations that seem counterintuitive, energy science, nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics, and alternative theories of physics are my specialties.


I was a physics professor at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, research in nuclear technology and nuclear astrophysics. My travelling science show saw over 20,000 students of all ages. I taught physics, nuclear chemistry, radiation safety, vacuum technology, and answer tons of questions as I tour schools encouraging students to consider careers in science. I moved on to a non-academic job with more research just recently.

Ph. D. from Duke University in physics, research in nuclear astrophysics reactions, gamma-ray astronomy technology, and advanced nuclear reactors.

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