Is there something we can do to protect ourselves from radiation poisoning ? The nuclear blasts in Japan have all of us concerned about radiation poisoning. However World Health Organization officials say “health risk is small” for those of us not living near the power plants.
In Extreme Risk of Contamination
Japanese people living within 12 miles of the Fukushima nuclear power plant are at extreme risk of contamination by inhaled or swallowed radioactive iodine particles. The Japanese government has evacuated 180,000 people from the area and advised everyone to wear a surgical mask and stays in unventilated rooms.
The real danger of these radioactive iodine particles is when they are absorbed by the thyroid and develop thyroid cancer as was the case in the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. According to the World Health Organization, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster will cause 50,000 new cases of thyroid cancer among young people living in the areas most affected by the nuclear disaster.
It is postulated that the rate of thyroid cancer in adolescents aged 15 to 18 is also now three times higher than it was before the 1986 disaster took place. The incidence of thyroid cancer in children rose 10-fold in children who lived in the Ukraine region. The most dramatic rate increase is in children who were 10 or younger when the Chernobyl accident occurred, and most specifically, those who were under 4.
Potassium iodide is a pharmacological product. The potassium and iodine in our food do not have the same effect.
Further away from the source, radiation exposure depends on the distance from the plant and on weather conditions, especially wind and rain at the time of the explosion. According to Bloomberg from Business week, he reports: “Radioactive iodine is heavier than air and won’t spread far in mild wind...(but it) has a half-life of eight days, meaning it takes eight days of decay to decrease by half.”
More concerning, is the indirect radiation exposure as Dr. David J. Brenner from the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University told the New York Times: "The way radioactive iodine gets into human beings is an indirect route," he said.
"It falls to the ground, cows eat it and make milk with radioactive iodine, and you get it from drinking the milk." Dr. Brenner then said that the epidemic of thyroid cancer around Chernobyl could have been prevented if the government had immediately stopped people from drinking milk. Officials in South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines will be checking food imported from Japan.
Ionizing radiation consists of particles or electromagnetic waves that are energetic enough to detach electrons from atoms or molecules, thus ionizing them. Direct ionization from the effects of single particles or single photons produces free radicals, which are atoms or molecules containing unpaired electrons, that tend to be especially chemically reactive due to their electronic structure.
The degree and nature of such ionization depends on the energy of the individual particles (including photons), not on their number or intensity. High frequency radiation has enough energy to damage DNA in the cells which often leads to thyroid cancer. The extent of damage is directly related to the dose of radiation.
The American Cancer Society points out that low-frequency radiation coming from power lines, radio waves, microwaves, cell phone, TV and computer screens have not been shown to cause cancer. The topic remains under study.
Antioxidants for Prevention
To fight off environmental toxins and the low levels of radiation we encounter every day, it's very important to eat an abundance of antioxidant nutrients found in plant foods. Antioxidants protect the cells from damage by keeping toxic byproducts in breaking havoc our DNA and vital cell structures. If these free radicals or byproducts are not destroyed they can lead to aging, cancer and other chronic diseases.
The Vitamins C, Vitamin A and Vitamin E are antioxidants as well as Selenium, and the many phytochemicals, such as beta-carotene in dark green and orange plants, lycopene in red plants, lutein in dark green leafy vegetables, resveratrol in grapes, myricetin in walnuts, and many more antioxidants to name. The overriding message is that every vegetable, fruit, legume, kernel, nut, and seed contains antioxidants and play an vital role in keeping us healthy.
Reduce your health risks now. Learn more about personalized physician supervised preventative programs and the science behind functional medicine at Milwaukee Center for Longevity Medicine
About the Author: Alexandra Solano MD is a Fellow in the field of Anti-Aging Regenerative and Functional Medicine. She works with clients in Brookfield to prevent and reverse degenerative disease of aging and improve overall well-being through lifestyle changes and integrative medicine.