Nuclear radiation exposure significantly increases thyroid cancer incidence An article published online on May 27 from the June 2004 issue of the International Journal of Epidemiology has documented a twelve-fold increase in thyroid cancer in women living in the former Soviet Union republic of Belarus following the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster. In young women under the age of fourteen at the time of diagnosis who resided in higher risk areas, rates of thyroid cancer have increased thirty-fold. Children aged two years and younger at the time of the disaster were especially vulnerable to nuclear radiation exposure, with more invasive cancers expanded beyond the thyroid. In response, the Nuclear Policy Research Institute has called on the Bush administration to reassess its commitment to the expansion of nuclear power.
Researchers from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in New York and the Institute of Oncology in Minsk, Belarus, analyzed data from the Belarus national cancer registry to arrive at their findings. They write that "Increases of this magnitude are remarkable over a relatively limited time period."
In their discussion of the findings, the authors note that because the population under study was not consuming iodized salt, it is likely that a large number of children were deficient in iodine at the time of the Chernobyl accident. Other reports have found that Belaurssian children continue to be deficient in the mineral. Iodine deficiency results in abnormal growth of the thyroid gland (hyperplasia) and increased radioiodine uptake when radioiodine is present in the environment, such as after the Chernobyl disaster. Because the emergency distribution of potassium iodide, which helps protect against thyroid cancer following radiation exposure, was found to be inconsistent, a large number of children who were deficient in iodine may have absorbed iodine radioisotopes from radioactive fallout, increasing their risk of cancer.
Cancer Prevention The first lines of defense against the many carcinogens in the human diet are agents that prevent gene mutation. Many antimutagenic agents have been identified in fruits and vegetables, the most potent being the indole-3-carbinols, the chlorophylls, and chlorophyllin (Negishi et al. 1997). The traditional dietary antioxidants should be considered only as a secondary line of defense against cancer because it is more important to inactivate or neutralize carcinogens in the first place than to try to protect the cells and proteins downstream from their effects. Chlorophyllin is the modified, water-soluble form of chlorophyll that has been tested as an antimutagenic agent for more than 20 years. In one of the great ironies of natural product science, we now have a very large body of data concerning the anticancer, antimutagenic, antioxidant, and potentially life-extending benefits of chlorophyllin but much less information on the effects of natural chlorophyll itself (Negishi et al. 1997; Tsunoda et al. 1998).
For example, chlorophyllin can cross cell membranes, organelle membranes, and blood-brain barriers while chlorophyll cannot. Chlorophyllin even enters into the mitochondria, the energy-producing organelles of the cell where 91% of oxygen reductions occur and where the majority of free radicals are produced (Boloor et al. 2000; Kamat et al. 2000). Chlorophyllin quenches all major reactive oxygen species, such as the superoxide radical, hydrogen peroxide, singlet oxygen, and even the most dangerously reactive hydroxyl radical at very low doses (Kamat et al. 2000). Chlorophyllin has been shown to be a potent mitochondrial antioxidant that not only protects mitochondria from their own auto-oxidation (considered to be one of the major causes of aging), but also protects mitochondria from a variety of external chemical, biological, and radiation insults (Boloor et al. 2000; Kamat et al. 2000; Wei et al. 2001).
Keep potassium iodide where you can easily find it as soon as you hear news of a nuclear emergency. You may want to keep a stash at work and in your car, as well; children can carry some with them to school and activities to take as directed by parents. Even if you can’t take it right away, potassium iodide will still help as long as you can get it into your body within three to four hours of exposure.
Potassium iodide should only be taken when instructed to do so by a public health official. Do not use as an everyday supplement. A diet containing adequate iodine from iodized salt, kelp (kelp tablets typically contain 225 mcg of iodine), and fish (with about 500 mcg per serving) provides stronger baseline protection against radioactive iodine.
Each day our cells undergo about 10,000 DNA gene mutations. About 70% of gene mutation is caused by environmental factors such as diet and smoking. Aflatoxin molds, nitrosamine preservatives, and pesticide-herbicide residues are some of the damaging substances that are present in our food supply. Even healthy foods contain small amounts of these undesirable substances.
It is not just environmental toxins that pose a concern. Foods cooked at high temperature also inflict cellular damage. Deep-fried foods along with well-done beef steak, hamburgers, and bacon cause the formation of gene-mutating heterocyclic amines.
Chlorophyllin is the modified, water-soluble form of chlorophyll that has been shown to have DNA protective and antioxidant properties. It can cross cell membranes, organelle membranes, and blood brain barriers (natural chrolophyll cannot). Chrolophyllin can even enter the mitochondria where 91% of oxygen reductions occur and where the majority of free radicals are produced.