Radiation and Iodine: a Q&A
As we have watched Japan surmount the insurmountable in these past few weeks, we have been in genuine awe of the courage, organization and strength of the people as they struggle to cope and get back on track. There are many ways to help. I made my donation to the Red Cross and have recently been inspired by other efforts being made by charities such as Charity Buzz and EMI’s Ebay auction to raise money for Japan. Itunes, meanwhile, has released a Songs for Japan Album.
As there is still so much uncertainty as to what will ultimately transpire at the Fukushima plant, and what the human and environmental impact will be, we asked some of the doctors we work with if there is really anything that can be done to protect ourselves against varying degrees of exposure to radiation.
From Dr. Chris Renna
Worried about nuclear radiation from the Fukushima reactor meltdowns? Worrying does you no good. It impairs your immune system, tips your brain out of balance, and distracts you from dealing with real life. Worrying is living what if; life is what is. Thus far we’re fine. Mirror cells in our brain help us relate to others, but in dramatic situations trigger neural networks that generate fear, stress, and alarm. Relax, convert your fear to action by making reasonable preparations and spend the rest of your mental and emotional energy on projecting compassion. Reasonable preparations for the potential spread of nuclear radiation include having a supply of potassium iodide tablets (130 mgs) for adults, and additional tablets or Lugol’s solution for kids. Taking iodine in this form floods our thyroid gland with iodine, blocking the absorption of the radioactive form created in these meltdowns. Avoiding the uptake of the radioactive form of the mineral helps protect us from the risk of developing thyroid cancer later on.
Are there risks to taking potassium iodide?
Yes, but if the radiation rose to the point it was indicated the benefit would outweigh the risks. The best way to minimize your risk is to not take it unless it is absolutely necessary.
Moreover, seaweed contains a lot of iodine and other valuable nutrients, but it concentrates heavy metals and other environmental pollutants. It is a great food eaten occasionally. Eating the amount you’d need to block radioactive iodine might expose you to equal or worse toxins.
How will we know when it becomes absolutely necessary?
We’ll know. The media covering this tragedy will not miss the chance to break that news to us. Bad news travels at the speed of light these days.
The likelihood of toxic radiation reaching us is very small. The leak will have to be much greater and rise much higher to get picked up by the jet stream. I’m encouraging my clients to tune in, turn on but not drop out. Get the potassium iodide, listen to official announcements and pay attention to their life in the moment. If you do that and the situation worsens, you’ll be ready. If it doesn’t you won’t have suffered needlessly. Be compassionate and engaged, and whenever possible, help others.
For more facts about potassium iodide (KI) Dr. Renna referred us to the CDC pamphlet available at www.bt.cdc.gov/radiation/ki.asp. He recommended each of us confer with our doctor before taking KI, as there are some conditions and medications that contraindicate its use. If you can’t find KI right now don’t panic. Check internet and retail sites every couple of days. Manufacturers are rushing to replenish their stores to meet our demand. Were the unlikely event to occur and you needed KI right away, health officials say they will supply it through public hospitals and clinics.
Originally from New York, Dr. Renna graduated cum laude from the University of Texas, earned his medical degree in Osteopathic medicine cum laude from the University of North Texas Health Science Center and completed a residency in family medicine. Since founding LifeSpan medicine in 1992, Dr. Renna has maintained a small practice focused on comprehensive, executive, optimal health. Over the years his passion and dedication to his clients as well as his unique approach has earned him an exceptional reputation as the nation’s premiere preventive medicine provider. He is a popular speaker on the subjects of Preventive Medicine, Peak Performance and Health. Dr Renna is also a published author and lecturer to audiences across the United States and abroad.