Walking through full body scanners at the airport may increase your risk of cancer, says doctor David B. Agus.

Agus is a physician and author of the book The Lucky Years: How To Thrive In The Brave New World Of Health. He publicly opposes the use of X-ray airport scanners and believes that the radiation emitted by them will have harmful, long-term effects on the people that walk through them.


“In the 1960s, when everybody went to a shoe store they’d put a little box on the ground and you’d put your foot in an x-ray to see if the shoe would fit or not,” Agus told CBS. “Well, what do you know, they all got cancer in (their) legs when they did that because they were exposed to radiation.”

Agus suggests opting out of these scans when going through security checkpoints at the airport and instead requesting a body-search to avoid it.

“In those airports, they’re putting energy through you. We don’t have a lot of long-term outcome data and it’s all new. I’m not a believer in technologies like that,” Agus said. “I get a free massage. I get a pat down when I go through and I opt out. I’m not comfortable without data. It’s worth it in the long run.”


This is not the first time the controversy surrounding airport body scanners was brought to light. In 2011, the European Union banned the use of X-ray body scanners in all European airports, citing health and safety risks as the reason.

The health risks associated with X-ray scanners stem from the fact that they use ionized radiation technology, and enough radiation is emitted from X-rays to change and even damage the body’s cells, which can lead to an increased risk of cancer.

Many experts have expressed concern about the widespread commercial use of X-ray body scanners, and research suggests that anywhere between 6 and 100 airline passengers could develop cancer due to these machines every year.

The use of X-ray airport scanners is so controversial that, in 1998, Steven W. Smith, the inventor of the machine, (which was then known as the Secure 1000) assured panelists who were assessing its safety that the general public would not be exposed to X-ray technology.

“The places I think you are not going to see these in the next five years is lower-security facilities, particularly power plants, embassies, courthouses, airports and governments,” Smith told the panelists. “I would be extremely surprised in the next five to 10 years if the Secure 1000 is sold to any of these.”



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