Dr. Richard Shames., MD.
The earthquake damage to the nuclear power plants in Japan could pose a potential health risk to people all over the globe. If significant amounts of radioactive cesium and radioactive iodine enter the atmosphere and are carried by wind currents to far-reaching places, huge numbers of people might be exposed.
Should this happen in significant enough degree, authorities will inform the public about the possible radioactive exposure. One thing you can do regarding the exposure to radioactive iodine is to take into your body increased amounts of non-radioactive iodine. In this way the tendency for the body to concentrate radioactive iodine in the thyroid gland will be less.
It is this concentrated amount of radioactive iodine in the area of the thyroid gland that raises the risk of radiation caused cancers. But, should everyone in countries far from Japan simply now start taking iodine pills? The answer is NO.
In this situation, risks are relative. The highest risk is to people whose thyroid glands are actively making thyroid hormone. This does include most people, except those who have no thyroid gland function and those who are taking thyroid hormone medicine.
Those with prior thyroidectomy surgery or prior radio ablation of the thyroid gland are at much less risk. Also, people taking thyroid hormone medicine are generally not making as much of their own thyroid hormone from body stores of iodine, so their tendency to actively absorb and concentrate iodine will be less.
A more than normal risk exists for those people who are hyper-thyroid. Their system is faster than average at taking up iodine and concentrating it into their thyroid gland. Therefore, they may be risking greater radiation exposure, if some of the iodine taken up by their bodies is radioactive.
What can you do if radioactive levels increase and you are at significant risk?
The simplest most straightforward maneuver is to increase your intake of non-radioactive iodine. Since iodine is a double edge sword for people who have a tendency toward thyroid problems, this maneuver needs to be performed carefully.
It is risky to have a large population of people ingesting significant amounts of extra iodine in an unmonitored way. Many people who are susceptible to the inherited type of thyroid problems can become triggered by iodine into on-going excessively high or low thyroid function.
Thus, many people could potentially be harmed by a preventive health maneuver, which they are hoping will protect them from radioactive exposure. If the radiation exposure is small and insignificant in far-away places, widespread local taking of iodine pills might do more harm than good.
Until the regulatory agencies and governmental authorities announce that there is a significant increase in radioactive iodine in the air around you, then you should not be taking extra iodine, especially if anyone in your family has ever had a thyroid or auto-immune problem, like diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis.
Since extra iodine is liable to carry with it a certain amount of risk of its own, the sensible approach to the this world wide problem is for each person to carefully balance the various sometimes conflicting risks, in terms of his or her personal situation.
One way for the average person far from Japan to tell if they are at greater risk from small amounts of radioactive iodine in the air, would be to see if they were currently too high or too low or just right in body iodine level Get tested and find out.
A person who is low in body iodine might well be at greater risk from small amounts of radioactive iodine in the air, since their body might be inclined to try to take up more of it, and to concentrate it in their thyroid gland, where the concentrated amount could be enough to initiate a thyroid cancer.
A person who already has plenty of iodine might well therefore be at less risk, and might wisely choose to avoid taking iodine pills preventively. In this way, the iodine test becomes a good public health preventive measure.
We encourage people to eat daily some seaweed and miso soup, which taken together are exceptionally useful in these situations. Also, top neutraceutical companies like Xymogen have high-quality protective supplements of sufficient strength to be especially recommended.
A fine preventive maneuver would be to add to your morning intake one pill daily of the following: a good multi-mineral like "MinRx", an herbal adaptogen mix like "Adrenal Essence", a cleansing milk thistle source, such as "Liver Protect", and a thyroid-friendly iodine source like "Med Caps T3".
Especially important would be to include a strong antioxidant nutrient, like one pill twice daily of "Oraxinol". But please realize that none of this is truly necessary at the present time, unless you want to be on the ultra-safe side, and start your preventive program now.
A good thing for everyone concerned to do right away would be to simply check your iodine levels with the easy Iodine Test. If you test low in iodine, then you may be one of those at greater risk. In that case, you would be more encouraged to do everything I have mentioned .
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Above all, focus on remaining as calmly centered as possible. In this way, you will continue to make the very best decisions for yourself and your loved ones.
Kindest regards to you, and heartfelt wishes for the highest health to all.