Protecting Yourself and Your Thyroid From Radiation
By Mary Shomon, About.com Guide April 12, 2011
Reports are starting to come in of elevated radioactive iodine levels in water, milk and some food in the United States as a result of the Japanese nuclear accident. It’s important to note that these are considered slight elevations, are still within the stated official “normal/safe” ranges, and not at levels deemed “dangerous” by authorities. At the same time, there is controversy, because there are also experts who feel that this increased exposure can and does pose a risk to health — including thyroid health — over time. The EPA said this about elevated iodine-131 in drinking water samples coming from the Pacific Northwest this past weekend: “An infant would have to drink almost 7,000 liters of this water to receive a radiation dose equivalent to a day’s worth of the natural background radiation exposure we experience continuously from natural sources of radioactivity in our environment.” At the same time, the group Physicians for Social Responsibility has said that even if there are natural exposures to radiation, there is no safe level of exposure.
Dr. Jeff Patterson of the group said: “There is no safe level of radionuclide exposure, whether from food, water or other sources. Period. Exposure to radionuclides, such as iodine-131 and cesium-137, increases the incidence of cancer. For this reason, every effort must be taken to minimize the radionuclide content in food and water.” So what are some things you may want to do?
1. Monitor the Radiation Levels The Environmental Protection Agency has a new RadNet website that features sampling data, monitoring radiation levels found in air, rain, milk and drinking water, from spots around the nation. You can view the data — which is updated regularly, online at the EPA site. Some other places to monitor radiation levels include Radiationnetwork.com, “a nationwide grass roots effort to monitor the radiation in our environment.” For Nevada and Utah, the Community Environmental Monitoring Program also has detailed monitoring for those states.
2. Remove Radioactive Iodine from Your Water and Vegetables Forbes’ magazine’s Tech guru Jeff McMahon explains ways to remove radioactive iodine 131 from your household water, as well as from your vegetables in this article: How To Remove Radioactive Iodine-131 From Drinking Water. His recommendations? Reverse osmosis water treatments, activated carbon filtering, and ion exchange (water softening). McMahon also recommends using cleaned water to wash vegetables.
3. Protect Yourself Nutritionally Some conventional physicians would say that there is no use — except for potassium iodide — in using food or nutritional supplementation to help protect against radioactivity. But nutritionist and naturopath Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman, best-selling author of “Zapped,” recommends a comprehensive approach at her blog, where she outlined a number of foods and supplements that may help protect the body from radiation. Her recommendations include: sea vegetables; foods high in beta-carotene; potassium-, calcium- and mineral-rich foods; adaptogens, potassium iodide if necessary, and other supplements. David Brownstein, MD, a well-known thyroid and hormone expert, and author of Iodine: Why You Need it and Why You Can’t Live Without It, believes that widespread iodine deficiency in the U.S. puts us at greater risk from the radioactive iodine exposure, and recommends we maintain what he calls “whole body iodine sufficiency.”
At his blog, Dr. Brownstein says: “The amount of iodine needed to achieve whole body sufficiency, for most of my patients, varies between 6-50mg/day.” He details his approach to iodine testing and supplementation further in his book.
Follow the Radiation Emergency: Bookmark Potassium Iodide, Radiation and the Thyroid: Protecting the Thyroid from Nuclear Accidents and Radiation