The 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident, the post-9/11 fears of terrorist attacks on nuclear facilities, and the March 2011 disaster at the Japanese Fukushima nuclear plant are all situations that have focused attention on protecting the thyroid gland from radiation. In particular, the use of the supplement potassium iodide - also known by its chemical symbol KI -- is of interest, because it can help prevent radiation-induced thyroid cancer. The following are key resources regarding radiation and the thyroid.
Here are ten important things that Americans need to know about protecting the thyroid gland from radiation, and the use of potassium iodide as a radiation blocker.
With news that rising radiation levels in soil and seawater around the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant are evidence of a meltdown, concerns are rising about the radioactive dangers from the troubled plant. And in the U.S., the concerns are also focused on whether the radiation may be harmful to the health of people outside Japan. And if so, how do those of us not in Japan protect ourselves against radiation? Do we even need to?
As reports indicate that elevated levels radioactive iodine are showing up water, milk and some food in the United States, should Americans trust the EPA, which says it's all within normal ranges, or Physicians for Social Responsibility, who say: there is no safe level of radionuclide exposure, whether from food, water or other sources. Period." And either way, what can you do to minimize any risks?
Japanese officials have announced that they upgraded the severity of the Fukushima nuclear accident from a 5 to the maximum of 7, the highest rating given to a nuclear accident. The IAEA describes a level 7 event as "a major release of radioactive material with widespread health and environmental effects requiring implementation of planned and extended countermeasures". The only nuclear accident ever rated 7 by the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) has been Chernobyl, which took place around 25 years ago, on April 26, 1986.
I went out to dinner and had Japanese food. With radioactivity detected in the ocean near the Fukushima plant, and now in algae and fish in Japanese waters, I had to wonder if I got a side order of radioactive iodine 131 with my sushi?
On March 23, 2011, Japanese officials issued warnings that radioactive iodine in Tokyo's water supply was exceeding guidelines for safety in infants.
People are responding in many different ways to the Japanese reactor leaks and the resulting radiation emergency in Japan, and have differing views on how to protect their thyroid health. In this poll, readers identify the ways they are reacting to the radiation risks, and share their thoughts about the concerns over radiation from the Japanese Fukushima nuclear plant.
Tthe March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan -- and the subsequent damage to the reactors -- created a great deal of speculation as to the need for Americans to use potassium iodide to protect the thyroid from radiation. One of the nation's leading endocrinologists, Theodore Friedman, MD, PhD, offered his advice on the issue.
Supplement manufacturers and distributors -- as well as some radiation and medical "experts" -- seem to have an interest in stoking the fear and frenzy over the Japanese nuclear disaster. Where can you go for legitimate, sound information on the use of potassium iodide for thyroid protection during a radiation emergency? Here are some reliable sources.
A look at the panic buying and resulting global shortage of potassium iodide, the supplement that can help protect the thyroid gland in the event of radiation exposure.
A look at the use of potassium iodide for thyroid protection, not only in lieu of the Japanese situation, but also given the prevalence of nuclear reactors in earthquake zones in the United States.