X rays are a wonderful addition to the world of medicine. They allow the doctor to peer inside the body without opening it up.
But X rays can also be harmful; according to Dr. John Gofman, Ph.D., professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, we tend receive too many.
You may not think twice when a doctor or a dentist tells you that you need an X ray. Ask why you need it and if it is absolutely necessary. Sometimes X rays are ordered for legal, not medical, reasons, and you may want to refuse them. If you are seeing a doctor for a second opinion, take the X ray from the first physician with you. If you change dentists or are going for an examination by a dental specialist, take your X rays with you.
The harmful effects of X ray include many things. Being a kind of high energy radiation it can be destructive to all living tissues, including bone marrow. They are particularly harmful for pregnant women and are known to cause birth defects or congenital disorders.
However it is important to keep these risks in perspective and compare them with the benefit of doctors being able to keep on eye on the insides without surgery.
Nevertheless, always ask for X-ray shields or lead aprons for the parts of your body not being X-rayed.