Sunday, March 20, 2011
Radiation From Japan
I was dismayed when U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin endorsed the idea that the public should stock up on potassium iodide as a "precaution". What was she thinking?
First of all, the only think that iodine helps prevent is thyroid cancer. Radiation poisoning affects the entire body's DNA and iodine does nothing to protect us.
Second, the risk of any clouds of radiation reaching the U.S. in amounts large enough to cause problems is almost zero. OK, I didn't say "Zero" because scientists never use the "Z" word. Nothing in life is absolute, but even the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 did not cause any uptick in cancer in the rest of the world or Europe.
The risk of nuclear radiation on the human body depends upon the amount of exposure and the length of time you are exposed. The workers who are bravely working in the reactor have still not reached levels that are unsafe. People outside of the evacuation radius of 12 miles are considered safe and Americans have been advised to stay 50 miles away. That is good advice.
The panic and stockpiling of iodide tablets is just like the Cipro stockpiling during the Anthrax scare or the Tamiflu shortage during the H1N1 scare. Neither of them materialized and the nuclear scare will not either. Instead of being afraid, we should get educated and empower our legislature to make environmental decisions that will benefit mankind in the future.
Posted by Toni Brayer, MD at 12:12 PM