X ray photons carry enough energy to ionize atoms and disrupt molecular bonds. This makes it a type of ionizing radiation, and therefore harmful to living tissue. A very high radiation dose over a short amount of time causes radiation sickness, while lower doses can give an increased risk of radiation induced cancer. In medical imaging this increased cancer risk is generally greatly outweighed by the benefits of the examination. The ionizing capability of X rays can be utilized in cancer treatment to kill malignant cells using radiation therapy. It is also used for material characterization using X ray spectroscopy.