Poverty Not Linked to Increased Radiation Dosage from Imaging

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Living in poverty is associated with higher rates of ionizing radiation dosage, but only because people with lower incomes are more likely to be sick and require a greater amount of imaging, according to a study in the current issue of the Journal of American College of Radiology.

Researchers surveyed 54,000 mostly African American and Latino patients under 40-years-old from a medical center in the Bronx, New York. They collected medical records from 2006-2009 and calculated a cumulative exposure to ionizing radiation, then compared that to socioeconomic status based on census tract data.

While they found an association between radiation exposure and socioeconomic status, it was no longer significant once they factored in co-morbid conditions. A lack of health insurance and lower income is associated with higher rates of chronic conditions, which commonly require diagnostic imaging.

The study follows another report in the January issue of JACR that said the uninsured and Medicaid patients receive less imaging in the Emergency Department.