…Recent assessments have suggested that the amount of radioactivity released from Fukushima equals or exceeds that released from Chernobyl. Given the continuing emission of radioisotopes from the melted reactors, the high density of population around the plant, and the close proximity to food sources, we can expect that morbidity and mortality will be high in Japan.
…Adverse health effects may also be expected in the United States, even though exposures have been far below those in Japan. Low-dose radiation exposure, previously assumed to be harmless, has been linked with elevated disease rates in children born to women who underwent pelvic X-rays while pregnant, Americans exposed to atomic bomb fallout, nuclear plant workers, and, for leukemia, children exposed to very low doses after Chernobyl. In addition to physical diseases is loss of cognitive ability in adolescents following low-dose ionizing radiation in utero.”
The Potential Dangers of Low-Dose Radiation
If the levels of radiation that reach the U.S. are, in fact, low, this may still pose a formidable threat to human health and the environment. In 2010, the United National Scientific Committee released a report on the effects of low-dose radiation, noting the following (the report uses the term ‘low dose’ to mean doses of radiation below 200 mGy – a computed tomography (CT) scan delivers about 10 mGy):11
- There is strong evidence of “statistically significant” elevations of risk of solid tumors and leukemia above doses of 100 – 200 milligray (mGy)
- Findings of elevated incidence of circulatory disease in populations irradiated at high doses are raising some concern
- There is “increasing evidence” of radiation exposure leading to increased incidence of cataracts
- Radiation exposure of the developing embryo or fetus during pregnancy can also contribute to the appearance of non-cancer diseases in children. In addition to the induction of congenital mal-formations, the central nervous system is particularly affected12 … Mainly on the basis of animal studies and some observations following high-dose exposures of pregnant women, the Committee considers that there is a threshold for these effects at about 100 mGy.
- There is emerging evidence from recent epidemiological studies indicating elevated risks of non- cancer diseases below doses of 1 to 2 Gy, and in some cases much lower.
Although this report was released in 2010, scientists are just now going to review it to help assess the true effects of Fukushima.13 There is also a phenomenon known as the “bystander effect,” which multiplies the dose and harm from radiation exposures. According to Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, cells that have not been exposed to radiation can be harmed by nearby cells that have. Writing for ISIS, Dr. Ho explains:14
“…low dose radiation is all the more dangerous because it does not kill the targeted cell, but allows its influence to spread widely to adjacent cells, thus multiplying the radiation effect (about 100 fold) …a wide range of bystander effects in cells not directly exposed to ionizing radiation have been found, which are the same as or similar to those in the cells that were exposed, including cell death and chromosomal instability.”
Currently, there is a considerable push to understand bystander effects, genomic instability, and adaptive response after radiation exposure in low doses… but it is now clear that bystander effects do occur and are a general phenomenon induced by all types of radiation.15
What Can You do to Minimize Your Risks of Radiation Exposure?
First and foremost, if you live in an area with elevated levels in drinking water, be sure you either find an alternative source of water – such as your nearest natural spring16 – or filter it with a high-quality filter. When it comes to radiation, reverse osmosis is effective at removing most particles from your water.
If you’re looking for strategies to help prevent damage caused by radiation exposure, researchers noted in the International Journal of Low Radiation17 that the most active molecular form of vitamin D – D3 (also known as calcitriol) – may offer protection against a variety of radiation-induced damages, including even those caused by background radiation or a low-level nuclear incident.
The protective mechanisms are so strong that researchers suggested vitamin D3 should be considered among the prime (if not the primary) non-pharmacological agents to protect against sub-lethal low radiation damage and, particularly, radiation-induced cancer.
Spirulina – a blue-green algae – might be another useful alternative to protect against the effects of radiation. Spirulina was actually used to treat children exposed to chronic low levels of radiation after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
According to a scientific review of spirulina’s benefits:18
“Up to very recently, the interest in Spirulina was mainly in its nutritive value. Currently, however, numerous people are looking into the possible therapeutic effects of Spirulina. Many pre-clinical studies and a few clinical studies suggest several therapeutic effects ranging from reduction of cholesterol and cancer to enhancing the immune system, increasing intestinal lactobacilli, reducing nephrotoxicity by heavy metals and drugs and radiation protection.”
But what is it about this blue-green algae that gives it this radiation-protective capacity? Spirulina has a 16 percent phycocyanin content – a blue pigment that is attached to its photosynthetic membranes. Phycocyanin is also a nitrogen storage molecule. The nitrogen atoms can form a complex with heavy metals such as radioactive cesium and stronium, hence “cleansing” these radioactive metals from your body.
Turmeric contains a broad spectrum of water, fat and alcohol-soluble components, all of which may contribute to reducing damage associated with both external radiation and internalized radioisotope exposures. It accomplishes this primarily through reducing oxidative stress to cellular structures, particularly DNA.
Research demonstrates that it has significant radioprotective properties, and of particular importance in selecting a turmeric product is that it be certified organic to ensure it has not been gamma irradiated (ironic?) with radioactive cobalt-60 in the USDA-approved process known as “cold pasteurization.” Conventional spices are commonly exposed to as high as 30 Kilograys of gamma radiation, or the equivalent of 990 million chest x-rays worth of radiation. The irradiation of herbs produces formic acid, formaldehyde and unique radiolytic byproducts with carcinogenic properties.
I interviewed Ori Hofmekler for an alternative viewpoint with regard to how you can decrease the risk to your health from radiation. Ori makes some compelling arguments for the use of a high-quality whey protein concentrate to help protect against absorbing radioactive minerals.
One of the reasons for using sweet whey is because whey protein contains all the precursors that help your body produce glutathione, which is one of the best ways to detoxify these toxins. The other reason is it’s the highest source of all minerals and trace minerals that exist in nature. It has every possible mineral and trace elements – including organic sodium – that your body needs in the most bioactive form.
Other Herbs and Supplements
In general, the following foods, herbs and supplements may also help support your overall health in the event of radiation exposure:
|Ginseng||Kelp and other seaweeds (high in natural iodine)||Zeolites (to neutralize radiation) or bentonite clays|
|Ashwaganda (an adaptogenic herb)||Fulvic Acid||Reishi mushrooms (strong immune support)|
|High-dose vitamin C||Magnesium||Selenium|
|Coconut oil, which supports optimal thyroid health||Astaxanthin (has some protective function against ionizing radiation)||Chlorella (contains chlorophyll, which will increase your resistance to radiation)|
For additional research on natural substances with experimentally confirmed radioprotective properties you can visit GreenMedInfo.com’s Radiation Disaster Associated Toxicity page,19 which has indexed 146 substances of potential value.