We don’t need a medical study to use our instincts and common sense. It’s pretty obvious that it’s invasive and inappropriate to undergo an enhanced patdown. Unfortunately, it’s still not clear that scanners are safe.

“Statistically someone is going to get skin cancer from these X-rays,” Dr Michael Love, of the Johns Hopkins University school of medicine, told AFP (Agent France Presse.) “No exposure to X-ray is considered beneficial.”

Last April, Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) raised concerns about the “potential serious health risks” in a letter sent to the White House Office of Science and Technology. They pointed out that the assertions of safety are based on the relatively low reported x-ray levels. But this reassurance did not take into account that the scanners deliver higher concentrations of x-radiation to the skin and underlying tissue, rather than spreading the x-rays over the entire body.

“The devices currently in use and proposed for wider deployment … deliver to the scalp “20 times the average dose that is typically quoted by TSA and throughout the industry.”" Dr. David Brenner of Columbia University told the Congressional Biomedical Caucus, according to a recent article by James Ridgeway in Mother Jones.

Moreover, according to Dr. Brenner, most of the “radiation from X-ray backscatter machines strikes the top of the head, which is where 85 percent of the 800,000 cases of basal cell carcinoma diagnosed in the United States each year develop.”

Dr. Brenner’s concern is that “excessive x-ray exposure can act as a cancer rate multiplier.”

Given these options, it’s clear why many will opt out of flying altogether, if possible.

To take action, investigate the TSA.