Doctor, doctor: Those new airport scanners and the mysteries of the 'stitch' | radiation

I'm wondering how safe the new airport scanners are for travellers who have a history of radiation-related treatments? I have had two body scans, the first in 1986 and the second in 2006; two bone scans in 2006; five weeks of radiotherapy and numerous x-rays since. Would these scanners be OK for someone like me?
It's surprising how little information we have been given about their risk. Our local radiologist suggests that the extra small dose of radiation from them is so small compared with your radiotherapy doses that it would be insignificant. That is particularly true if you are being scanned only occasionally – say, when going on holiday once a year. However, he wasn't so sure about a business traveller with a history of high radiation dose in the past passing through these scanners once or twice a week. Do keep in mind that if you live in an area where the background radiation is high (such as with homes built on granite), you will be receiving weekly more than you would from an occasional airport scan – and there's no evidence that people are more ill in these areas than elsewhere.

I am a 47-year-old woman who has run regularly for the last 20 years. For the last nine months, whenever I run I get a 'stitch' at the base of my ribs. It can turn into a deeper, twisting pain that prevents me from moving and makes breathing difficult. I've tried all the usual cures. Could this be anything other than stitch?
It does sound like stitch, mainly because it happens only with exercise and ceases when you stop, but you cannot rule out other causes. We don't really know what causes a stitch, except that it seems to be the result of cramps due to a build up of lactic and other acids in the muscle. Since you seem to have done everything to allay it without success, it may be time to consider some other cause, such as gut muscle spasms. Talk to your doctor about where the pain is, how severe it is and whether or not you experience it at other times. The fact that you have had the pain for nine months but can still run long distances and remain fit is reassuring.

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