After decades of doctors hemming and hawing over the risks of gadolinium-based dyes used in enhanced MRIs, researchers at Case Western Reserve University have finally issued a report that acknowledges something that we’ve suspected for a long time.
Gadolinium, a heavy metal added to certain dyes used in imaging (called GBCAs for “gadolinium-based contrast agents”), won’t ever completely leave your body — but rather, it can accumulate in your brain.
If that sounds incredibly dangerous to you, you’re absolutely right.
But somehow, these researchers have managed to make the brain deposits of this toxic substance a ho-hum occurrence! It’s just, you know, a “phenomenon” that you have to put up with when get an MRI.
But before you let your doctor talk you into subjecting yourself to one of the screenings that use these dyes, you need to know all of the facts.
Because the brain you save could be your own.
Disconcerting? You bet!
The new report, which appeared on the cover of a recent issue of The Lancet Neurology, states that doctors need to conduct a “risk-benefit analysis” each time they call for an MRI — especially one that requires the use of one of these contrast agents.
“Gadolinium (can) deposit in certain parts of the brain,” it goes on to say, so a GBCA should “not be administered” if it’s not needed.
So far, so good.
Then, however, these Case Western researchers go off into fantasyland, saying that gadolinium is basically a safe substance, with “no evidence linking the brain deposits to health risks” except in the rare cases of patients who have “severe” kidney failure.
Wow, Tiny Tim couldn’t have done a better job of tiptoeing through the tulips!
But wait, there’s more…
The only reason for doctors to even worry about it at all, they maintain, is that it might be “disconcerting to patients” when they learn this heavy metal can deposit itself in their brains.
Seriously? You’d better believe it’s “disconcerting.” And I would’ve said that’s only half the story… but I’m not even sure it’s that much!
As I told you earlier this summer, there’s no debate that gadolinium is an extremely toxic substance. The whole idea of pumping dyes containing it into your body to make reading an MRI easier was originally based on the (false) notion that it’s eliminated by your kidneys.
But that’s been proven wrong time and again and time again.
- turned up in brain-tumor biopsies, leading some experts to believe it can trigger cancer cells to grow faster.
- caused an untold number of patients to develop a horrific condition known as “nephrogenic system fibrosis,” where their skin turns thick and hard like wood and, in some cases, their arms and legs become paralyzed.
- been found by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
to accumulate in the bodies of people with no kidney disease at all!
In fact, European regulators are recommending that GBCA products be prohibited.
But, as you might have guessed, there’s a lot of money at stake.
In the U.S. alone, it’s estimated that GBCAs are worth around $300 million a year. And General Electric Healthcare manufactures one of the big sellers, called Omniscan.
And if you’re wondering where the FDA is on all this, well, it’s just about washed its hands of the entire matter for now, saying sometime in the future it will convene a public meeting.
That means it’s up to you to protect yourself and your loved ones. So, before agreeing to an MRI, it’s essential that you ask your doctor why it was ordered in the first place. Imaging tests such as these are highly overused and often ordered simply to limit a doctor’s liability in case he gets sued.
And if it’s really necessary, then find out if it the MRI he ordered will be an “enhanced” one, using a GBCA. If it is, your safest bet is to follow the advice of HSI panel member Dr. Allan Spreen, who notes that all such dyes are “highly toxic” and only used for the “convenience” of radiologists — and should be “adamantly refused.”
“MRI contrast agents accumulate in the brain” Case Western Reserve University, August 7, 2017, ScienceDaily, sciencedaily.com