Source: The Huffington Post
We are all saddened as we watch the unfolding events in Japan. There is grow fear, as well.
The nuclear catastrophe raging through Japan’s nuclear power complex is generating an intense fear of radioactive fallout potentially reaching North America. My patients and friends have been asking about how best to protect themselves and their families, as there is considerable confusion here.
Even as government officials and health experts downplay the health risk to U.S. citizens, pharmacies up and down the West Coast of the United States have been stripped bare of their stock of potassium iodide tablets — a frontline treatment for radiation exposure. Anxious buyers turning to the internet are faced with a similar lack of available supplies. So, what do we do? It’s a growing, ever-changing scenario, and here are my current thoughts, certainly open to modification.
Are we really at risk of exposure from radioactive fallout generated by a nuclear meltdown in Japan? I believe this is a question best left to qualified nuclear scientists and meteorologists. But after serving as a consultant to the Independent Safety Committee for the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant from 1990 to 2002, I know firsthand how important it is to be prepared for all possibilities when dealing with nuclear radiation.
One of the greatest dangers following a nuclear accident comes from exposure to gases containing radioactive isotopes of iodine. These highly carcinogenic isotopes are readily taken up by the thyroid gland, resulting in the development of thyroid cancer. Exposure to radioactive iodine calls for immediate treatment with another form of iodine, potassium iodide, to saturate the thyroid and block the absorption of radioactive iodine. This is especially critical for children, pregnant women, and nursing mothers, who are most at risk following a nuclear disaster. A lack of adequate supplies of potassium iodide tablets after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 resulted in thyroid cancer for thousands of untreated children.
Potassium Iodide (KI)
Potassium iodide tablets are commonly stockpiled near nuclear power plants to allow for rapid distribution in case of a radioactive accident. In the absence of tablets, potassium iodide may also be administered as a “saturated solution of potassium iodide” (SSKI) which in the U.S.P. generic formulation contains 1000 mg of KI per ml of solution. Two drops of U.S.P. SSKI solution is equivalent to one 130 mg KI tablet (100 mg iodide).
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the following doses of potassium iodide should be taken as a single dose within three hours of exposure, or up to 10 hours after exposure, although this is less effective.
• Adults : 130 mg
• Adolescents: 12-18: WHO — adult dose; CDC — children’s dose; if adult size (150 pounds or over) they should take the full adult dose, regardless of their age.
• Children age 3-12 years: 65 mg
• Infants : 1 mo. to 3 years, 32. 25 mg (ie half tablet)
• Newborns to 1 mo., 1/4 capsule.
Note: Dosages may be crushed and taken mixed with milk or water. For kids, chocolate milk or raspberry syrup disguise the unpleasant taste.
While potassium iodate can be taken by a majority of people without any problems, it should only be used in case of a nuclear emergency. Doses in excess of the single (one time only) daily dose listed above should be taken only upon recommendation by a physician or public health authority. Patients should notify their doctor if taking quinidine, captopril, or enalopril, or if they are sensitive to iodine, or suffer from dermatitis herpetiformis, thyrotoxicosis or kidney problems before taking potassium iodate (or any thyroid blocker).
It is best to take iodide prophylactically, prior to exposure. Every family should have a good supply in their homes. At this time we may recommend taking 10-40mg per day. A dose of 30-50mg is the range of dietary intake in Japan and relatively safe to take long term but under practitioner monitoring. Build up gradually: 10mg-20mg-30mg-40mg.
Then, in case there is an official announcement of significantly increased radiation, adults should go to the dose mentioned above: 130mg/day and children to lower doses per body weight, generally 65 mg, age 3-12 years. You can use a loading dose of two drops daily of Lugol’s Iodine, a commonly available pharmaceutical form of potassium iodide, or SSKI, and increase to 130 mg if needed. See the U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommendations.
Other supplements that may be protective are: vitamin D and vitamin K as they support appropriate apoptosis, which is programmed death of cells that accumulate various DNA errors (due to radiation and other causes), and vitamin D also supports DNA repair.
Avoid exposure to rain that may be laden with radiation if we are exposed. You’ll be informed by authorities if that is the case.
Other Radiation Dangers
Besides I-131, there are other toxic radio-isotopes, including cerium 137 and plutonium. Dr. Gabriel Cousens has provided some excellent advice in his book “Conscious Eating.” To protect yourself from cesium poisoning, consume plenty of high potassium foods, as potassium competitively inhibits cesium uptake. Foods high in potassium include avocados, sea vegetables, and leafy green vegetables, and are more effective than taking a potassium supplement.
Read the original article: How to Protect Yourself from Radiation