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MRIs: FDA Asleep at the Wheel

MRIs: FDA Asleep at the Wheel
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The European Union has restricted the use of MRI contrasting agents. Why hasn’t the FDA? Action Alert!

European health authorities have suspended the use of gadolinium contrasting agents in MRI scans due to concern that these acids can accumulate in the brain. A European review committee found convincing evidence of gadolinium accumulating in brain tissue months after an MRI was performed.

Unfortunately, America’s FDA has chosen to ignore this issue, no doubt under pressure from radiologists.   Last year, the FDA completed its own review of gadolinium contrasting agents but decided to take no further action.

Our article last summer first broached this topic; here are the key points. To improve the image provided by an MRI, doctors usually prescribe a shot of gadolinium contrasting agent. Gadolinium is a rare earth element – and, because it is toxic, comes with a black box warning. Patients with impaired kidney function who receive gadolinium contrasting agents are at risk for developing a potentially fatal disease called nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF). There is also evidence that a broader range of patients could be affected by gadolinium contrasting agents after at least one study showed that gadolinium can persist in the body, even in the brain. 

We often disagree with European health authorities, who often seem to be taking their orders from corporate interests. But in this case, the facts seem to be on their side.

Action Alert! Write to the FDA and tell them to respond to the European action by undertaking a real review of the use of gadolinium contrasting agents. Please send your message immediately.

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