Just as the COVID threat/narrative starts to unwind the risk of nuclear emergencies resulting from war is steadily rising as world superpowers seem to be approaching open and direct conflict with one another. The subjects of nuclear strikes and attacks on nuclear power plants are now daily talking points in news around the world. This blog post will discuss briefly why iodine is distributed to at-risk populations and how you can be best prepared.
We have posted a 3-part article named Radiation Health Risks which covers a number of topics relating to radiation in general.
Part I. Mechanisms and Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation. Discusses ionizing radiation and how it alters the structure of atoms, kills healthy cells, corrupts DNA and causes cancer. Shows the role of cell division and cell repair in the creation of genetic diseases and cancer.
Ionizing radiation is matter and energy released by atoms that travel in the form of particles and energy waves. This type of radiation has enough energy to cause chemical changes in cells and their genetic material DNA. Some cells may die or become abnormal. Radiation can cause cancer by damaging the DNA. Our bodies are efficient at repairing the cell damage. The success of the repairs depend on the extent of the damage. The extent of the damage depends on the amount and duration of the exposure, as well as the organs exposed. It is also a matter of chance because some components of DNA are more critical than others.
Part II. Radiation Dosage & Man-Made Sources of Ionizing Radiation. Discusses the contributing factors of radiation dosage which include tissue sensitivity, the radionuclides involved, and the concentration and duration of exposure. Shows the most common man-made sources of ionizing radiation, the radionuclides involved, where they concentrate in the body, and the parts of the body most likely to get cancer as a result.
The type of radiation, or the radioisotope, has bearing on the tissues impacted and the severity of damage based on the type of decay. The chemical structure of radioisotopes, in large part, determines where it will be concentrated in the body. For example, Strontium-90, also known as “The Bone Seeker”, concentrates in the bones because its structure resembles that of calcium. Similarly, Iodine-131 (I-131) concentrates in the thyroid because the thyroid cannot distinguish I-131 from other forms of iodine.
Part III. Ways To Reduce Radiation Health Risks. Discusses why iodine supplementation is helpful and why FDA-approved potassium iodide tablets are used as part of the emergency response for radiation exposure. This post considers other measures to reduce exposure to harmful radiation.
Iodine can significantly reduce the radiation health risks associated with I-131. I-131 produces beta-particles and gamma-rays. It decays quickly, is highly radioactive and emits a high amount of energy. I-131 has a relatively short physical half-life of 8 days when compared to other radionuclides. This does not necessarily make it less dangerous. If you are far away from the original source it is less of an issue because by the time it reaches you the radioactive components will have been greatly reduced. However, if you are close to the original source it will be very destructive to tissues as I-131 releases a great deal of energy in a short time span.
Iodine is absorbed mostly and most quickly by the thyroid. I-131 is a radioactive form of iodine that is usually present in nuclear emergencies. We want to avoid absorbing I-131 as much as possible by saturating our iodine-absorbing tissues with molecular iodine and/or some form of iodide. Taking a high dose (60-130 mg) of iodide will flood the thyroid with iodine causing the I-131 to pass by without being taken up.
Well that’s great news for you and your thyroid. What about the rest of the body? The reason we recommend regular high doses (12.5 mg) of iodine is that the whole body uses iodine.. not just the thyroid. We may also need to manage intense detox effects. We will continue discussing this in the next blog.
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