Are Airport Body Scanners Harmful?

by Allie Might, INHC, ATT

I often hear people wondering are airport body scanners harmful so I wanted to write this blog about how the research, and how to protect yourself from airport body scanners. Since I am also an avid traveler, these were also concerns of mine too. So I was inspired to look into the facts of these machines and learn how to protect myself. Read on to learn are airport body scanners harmful or safe?

The most common concerns seem to be:

Are these safe?

Do they cause cancer?

How can I protect myself?

In a study published by Harvard Medical School, these scanners are considered

safe. While a very small amount of backscanner ionized radiation is given off by these machines, it is a

minute amount. You are exposed to 1000x more radiation when having a medical

or dental x-ray. However opposing research says that they do emit enough radiation to damage DNA and cause cancer over time. Statistically the incidence may be miniscule but the possibility has prompted the European Union to ban x-ray body scanners in all European Airports.

In this same paper, the risk of developing cancer was also addressed.

We learned that the risk of cancer from these body scanner is .000015%. That tells us

that only 6 cases of all cancer cases may be caused by these machines. My opinion, those

odds are definitely in my favor. However the World Heath Organization published the 2011 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) evaluated cancer risks from all radiofrequency (RF) radiation mostly, which reported that human epidemiological studies show evidence of increased risk for 2 types of brain cancer; glioma and acoustic neuroma. In this review RF radiation was classified as Group 2B, a possible human carcinogen. Further epidemiological, animal and mechanistic studies have strengthened the association to cancer since 2011.

For those of us that may be frequent travelers or aren't comfortable with these studies, and know that we

are exposed to a lot of other electromagnetic radiation during our day from cell phones to wireless and

bluetooth to microwaves to laptops to medical testing to airport traffic control, there is something

like to recommend. It is like an extra insurance policy you can do that might save your life, even if the current consensus doesn’t show that these are harmful.

Best Supplement:

I love a product called N-Acytel-Cysteine, more commonly referred to as NAC. This supplement not only

can help to protect us against the ionized radiation commonly given off by the body scanners, but it can

also help to detoxify substances from our bodies. But don’t take it from me - take it from Director of Clinical

Education at Nutrametrix, Dr. Deedra Mason ND who writes that

“NAC is derived from the sulfur-containing amino acid, cysteine. It is produced naturally

in the body and is found in foods. NAC mediates (along with glutamic acid and glycine) the conversion of

cysteine into glutathione. Glutiathione is one of the body's primary cellular antioxidants. NAC has been

indicated to enhance the immune system, detoxify heavy metals, support a healthy heart, relieve hangover

symptoms and reduce exercise fatigue. It is thought that NAC's suggested benefits come from either of its

two primary actions in the body. First, NAC is quickly metabolized to intracellular glutathione. Glutathione

(GTH), and the enzyme complexes that it forms, acts as reducing agents and antioxidants in the body. GTH

also detoxifies chemicals into less harmful compounds, as well as detoxifying heavy metals such as

mercury and lead. GTH is also known to aid in the transport of nutrients to lymphocytes and phagocytes,

two major types of immune cells, and to protect cell membranes. NAC is thought to be the best source

method of boosting cellular GTH levels. NAC cleaves disulfide bonds by converting them to two sulfhydryl

groups. This results in the breakup of mucoproteins in lung mucus, reducing their chain lengths and

thinning the mucus. Further, NAC has also been shown to support healthy platelet aggregation; and

supports healthy lipoprotein levels.

Several studies have confirmed that NAC is converted to glutathione in the body. Reviews of these studies

show that oral NAC supplementation was successful in enhancing the levels of glutathione in the liver, in

plasma and in the bronchioles of the lungs. NAC has also been shown to help reduce levels of fatigue and

improve ability for muscle contraction during exhaustive exercise (possibly due to reduced levels of

oxidative stress).” Check out my favorite NAC herbal product.

In conclusion, my advice is no to worry, relax and enjoy your trip. However if you feel you are exposed to too much radiation and concerned about your cancer risk, then you can opt out of the bodyscanners and get pat down instead. And if you need that extra peace of mind

for you to relax, make sure you are taking your NAC with combined cellular detox products like

Hepatocleanse to help protect you.


For more information on how to travel healthy - join me on my workshop where I will coach you how to stay healthy during your holidays. Download the replay


Harvard Health Letter


Int J Oncol. 2017 Aug;51(2):405-413. World Health Organization, radiofrequency radiation and health - a hard nut to crack (Review).

Heathrow airport, London

Heathrow airport, London