Yes, radiation causes cancer

Must've been a slow day in the newsroom.

Check out this headline from the Associated Press, which ran online and in print in newspapers around the world: "Radiation may up breast cancer risk in some women."

Really? This is what passes for scientific discovery these days?

Of course radiation increases the risk of cancer. It's radiation, after all. And that's exactly why the overuse of mammograms can have terrible consequences -- because the radiation used to screen for breast cancer can actually cause the disease.

There's no "may" about it. And the risk isn't limited to "some women," either, even if that's the conclusion of the new study.

In this one, researchers focused on women with specific gene mutations that make them more susceptible to breast cancer. They found that these women have a higher risk of the disease when they're given chest X-rays and mammograms, especially from a younger age.

In general, 9 out of every 100 women who have the gene mutation will get breast cancer by the age of 40 -- but even a single mammogram before the age of 30 would cause that number to shoot up to 14 out of every 100, according to the study.

Radiation from chest X-rays also increase the risk, with women who were zapped in their 20s seeing a 43 percent increase in risk, while women X-rayed before the age of 20 would have a 62 percent higher risk.

The conclusion here is that women with these gene mutations should skip the mammograms and rely on MRI screenings, which use no radiation.

But I say why limit this advice to women with gene mutations? Radiation should never be used when it can be avoided -- in men, women and children alike -- and when it comes to breast cancer screenings, it can often be avoided with MRIs, ultrasound, and other alternatives.

Talk to your own doctor about the best option for you.