Health: Danger: Body Scans

A new report on radiation exposure casts a pall on a popular health test

So-called whole-body scans were originally used as a last-resort diagnostic tool to find hidden tumors in patients with cancer. But then the tests caught on among the healthy hypervigilant, who were drawn in growing numbers to walk-in clinics by aggressive TV and radio ads. In 2002, two years after Oprah Winfrey got scanned--and bubbled enthusiastically about the experience--32 million Americans shelled out as much as $1,000 apiece to get their bodies X-rayed in thin slices and reassembled into 3-D images detailed enough to show every blemish, scar and incipient tumor. The numbers are down slightly, owing to the economic downturn and,...

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