How to Reduce Your Risk of Radiation (Updated)

Preface: This post is not intended to be the last word on the topic. Instead, it is only an attempt to start a conversation on radiation protection. We hope that top scientists with the necessary expertise will pick up the ball and run with it.

Amazing Story … or Myth?

In Fukushima Meltdown & Modern Radiation: Protecting Ourselves and Our Future Generations, Dr. John Apsley – a medical doctor, with degrees in nutrition and acupuncture – writes:

In August of 1945, St. Francis’s Hospital (Uragami Daiichi Hospital) in Nagasaki was located one mile from ground zero. The atomic bomb that exploded killed tens of thousands of Japanese. Many citizens died instantly, and many more passed on within days or weeks of the blast. The Director of Internal Medicine in the hospital, Dr. Tatsuichiro Akizuki, saved all staff members and most hospital patients by having them adhere to a strictly vegetarian diet of uncontaminated brown rice, fermented foods, sea algae and land vegetables. Sweets of all types were strictly forbidden, and salt sufficed as the main condiment. Another hospital exactly one mile from ground zero did not follow this dietary regimen. All other treatments remained constant. The loss of human life due to radiation poisoning suffered at this second nearby hospital approached 100%.

Dr. Hiromitsu Watanabe – from the Research Institute for Radiation Biology and Medicine at Hiroshima University – confirms:

In August 9th, 1945, the 2nd atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. At the time, physician Tatuichirou Akizuki, worked with 20 employees, caring for 70 tuberculoses patients in” Uragami Daiichi Hospital” located about 1.4km away from the hypocenter. However, these people, including Dr. Akizuki, escaped from death caused by acute radiation damage. Dr. Akizuki conjectured that the reason there was no nuclear bomb disease was that these people had consumed cups of wakame miso soup (miso soup with garnish of wakame seaweed) 3) everyday. Later, his assumption was published in the English language for the information of the Western population. On April 26, 1986, after the accident at Chernobyl, Russia, many Europeans consumed miso soup to prevent radiation diseases.

This story may be apocryphal; but Dr. Watanabe and his colleagues have conducted tests allegedly showing that miso reduces radiation damage in mice.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the National Cancer Institute claim that they’ve invent a high-tech medicine which may render radiation harmless.

We’re not vouching for either claim.  But we hope they wet your appetite to learn how we might be able to reduce damage from radiation.

What Can We do to Reduce Radiation Risks?

This essay provides an introduction to some of the main concepts on reducing the risk from radiation.

This post is broken into the following sections:

I.    Step 1: Reduce Exposure
II.  Certain Minerals Can Reduce Absorption of Harmful Radiation
III. Other Vitamins and Minerals Which Protect Against Radiation Damage
IV.  Antioxidants: Helpful Weapons Against Radiation Damage
V.   Other Things Which Offer Some Radiation Protection
VI.  What To Do If Exposed to Extremely High Doses of Radiation

Step 1: Reduce Exposure

Initially, we should reduce our exposure to radiation in the first place. For example, if you live in an area receiving any radiation exposure, you should take off your shoes and leave them by the door (Asian style) and use a Hepa vacuum to get rid of excess dust inside your house.

We should also be moderate with our consumption of fish caught off the Japanese, Hawaiian or West coast of the U.S. and Canada, as radiation can bioaccumulate in fish. See this, this, and this … and the video below.

You may also consider filtering the water in your house with a filter which removes radiation.

(At the end of this essay, we’ll tell you what to do if you have the misfortune of getting exposed to high doses of radiation.)

Certain Minerals Can Reduce Absorption of Harmful Radiation

It is well-known that potassium iodide works to protect against damage from radioactive iodine by saturating our body (the thyroid gland, specifically) with harmless iodine, so that our bodies are unable to absorb radioactive iodine from nuclear accidents.

For example, the World Health Organization notes:

When taken at the appropriate dosage and within the correct time interval around exposure to radioactive iodine, KI [i.e. potassium iodide] saturates the thyroid gland with stable (non-radioactive) iodine. As a result, radioactive iodine will not be taken up and stored by the thyroid gland.

KI only protects against one particular radioactive element, radioactive iodine, which has a half life of only 8.02 days. That means that the iodine loses half of its radioactivity within 8 days. For example, after the initial Fukushima melt-down, radioactive iodine was found in California kelp. But the radioactive iodine quickly dissipated. *

Fortunately – while little-known in the medical community – other harmless minerals can help “saturate” our bodies so as to minimize the uptake of other types of harmful radiation.

The U.S. Department of Defense’s Army Medical Department Center and School explained in its book Medical Consequences of Radiological and Nuclear Weapons (Chapter 4):

One of the keys to a successful treatment outcome is to reduce or eliminate the uptake of internalized radionuclides before they can reach the critical organ.


The terms “blocking” or “diluting” agent can, in most cases, be used interchangeably. These compounds reduce the uptake of a radionuclide by saturating binding sites with a stable, nonradioactive element, thereby diluting the deleterious effect of the radioisotope. For example, potassium iodide is the FDA-recommended treatment to prevent radioactive iodine from being sequestered in the thyroid…. Nonradioactive strontium compounds may also be used to block the uptake of radioactive strontium. In addition, elements with chemical properties similar to the internalized radio-nuclide are often used as blocking agents. For example, calcium, and to a lesser extent phosphorus, can be used to block uptake of radioactive strontium.

The International Commission for Radiological Protection (ICRP) conducted a study that confirmed those not ingesting adequate levels of minerals such as calcium were more vulnerable to absorbing and retaining higher levels of radionuclides:

Within the framework of a Coordinated Research Project (CRP) organized by the International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, the daily dietary intakes of seven elements by adult populations living in nine Asian countries were estimated. The countries that participated in the study were Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea (Republic of Korea, ROK), and Vietnam and together they represented more than half of the world population. The seven elements studied were calcium, cesium, iodine, potassium, strontium, thorium, and uranium. These elements have chemical and biological similarity to some of the radionuclides abundantly encountered during nuclear power production and therefore data on these elements could provide important information on their biokinetic behavior. Analyses of diet samples for these seven elements were carried out using highly sensitive and reliable analytical techniques. One thousand one hundred and sixty analytical determinations were made on two hundred and twenty samples of typical diets consumed in these countries to estimate the daily intakes of these elements by the adult Asian population. The median daily dietary intakes for the adult Asian population were found to be 0.45 g calcium, 7 microg cesium, 90 microg iodine, 1.75 g potassium, 1.65 mg strontium, 1 microg thorium, and 1 microg uranium. When compared with the intakes proposed for ICRP Reference Man by International Commission for Radiological Protection, these intakes were lower by factors of 0.41 for calcium, 0.7 for cesium, 0.45 for iodine, 0.53 for potassium, 0.87 for strontium, 0.33 for thorium, and 0.52 for uranium. The lower daily intakes of calcium, cesium, and iodine by Asian population could be due to significantly lower consumption of milk and milk products, which are rich in these elements. The significantly lower intake of calcium in most of the Asian countries may lead to higher uptake of fission nuclide 90Sr and could result in perhaps higher internal radiation dose.

The American Association of Physicists In Medicine agrees:

As does the book published in 2005 by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, called Weapons of Mass Casualties and Terrorism Response:

(You may want to make sure you get enough phosphorous, as well).

Plutonium is treated like iron by our bodies. So getting enough iron will help reduce absorption of plutonium. And see this.

Potassium may block the uptake of radioactive cesium 137, although this is somewhat less clear. While studies of plants, fish and rats show that potassium blocks cesium in those organisms, there have been very few scientific tests of ability of potassium to cesium uptake in humans … and those tests have had mixed results. ** In any event, potassium is an essential mineral, so getting enough of it is good for your general health.

Here are the recommended daily allowances (RDA) for various minerals (data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture):

You can buy calcium, potassium, iron supplements. You can also buy non-radioactive strontium supplements. Or incorporate foods high in calcium, potassium, and iron.

Other Vitamins and Minerals Which Protect Against Radiation Damage

A number of scientific studies conclude that Vitamin A helps to protect us from radiation. See this, this and this.

Numerous studies show that Vitamin C helps to protect the body against radiation.

Vitamin D can help repair damage to DNA, and may help protect against low-level radiation. As Science Daily reports:

Radiological health expert Daniel Hayes, Ph.D., of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene suggests that a form of vitamin D could be one of our body’s main protections against damage from low levels of radiation. Writing in the International Journal of Low Radiation, Hayes explains that calcitriol, the active form of vitamin D, may protect us from background radiation and could be used as a safe protective agent before or after a low-level nuclear incident.


“Vitamin D by its preventive/ameliorating actions should be given serious consideration as a protective agent against sublethal radiation injury, and in particular that induced by low-level radiation,” concludes Hayes.

It takes a couple of weeks or months to build up our body’s levels of Vitamin D. You cannot just pop a bunch of pills and raise your Vitamin D level. You should never take more than the recommended dose, and – even if you did – it wouldn’t raise your vitamin D level all at once. As such, we should start now

Vitamin E has also shown promise in protecting from low-level radiation, at least in animal studies. Here and here (the natural form may be healthier for you than the synthetic form).

Here are the RDAs for vitamins (data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture):

You can buy vitamin supplements, or eat foods rich in vitamins A, C, D and E.

Selenium also helps protect our bodies from radiation. See this, this and this. Brazil nuts are the best food source of selenium. (And – given that the New England Journal of Medicine says that eating nuts helps us live longer – eating a handful of mixed raw nuts every day makes some sense.)

Antioxidants: Helpful Weapons Against Radiation Damage

It may sound strange, but it is well-documented that antioxidants help to protect against damage from radiation. Specifically, one of the main ways in which low-level ionizing radiation damages our bodies is by the creation of free radicals. (This 2-minute BBC videoshows how damaging free radicals can be to your health.)

For example, Columbia University explains the damaging effects of low-level radiation through free radical creation:

Indeed, creation of free radicals is virtually the definition of ionizing radiation. Wikipedia notes:

Ionizing … radiation is radiation composed of particles that individually carry enough kinetic energy to liberate an electron from an atom or molecule, ionizing it. Ionizing radiation is generated through nuclear reactions ….

A free radical is simply an atom or molecule that has a single unpaired electron in an outer shell.

Wikipedia continues:

Ionization of molecules can lead to radiolysis, (breaking chemical bonds,) and formation of highly reactive free radicals. These free radicals may then react chemically with neighbouring materials even after the original radiation has stopped. (e.g. ozone cracking of polymers by ozone formed by ionization of air). Ionizing radiation can disrupt crystal lattices in metals, causing them to become amorphous, with consequent swelling, material creep, and embrittlement. Ionizing radiation can also accelerate existing chemical reactions such as polymerization and corrosion, by contributing to the activation energy required for the reaction. Optical materials darken under the effect of ionizing radiation.

An antioxidant – on the other hand – is a molecule stable enough to donate an electron to a rampaging free radical and neutralize it … reducing its capacity to damage our body. In other words, antioxidants reduce the ability of radiation to injure us through their free radical scavenging ability.

That’s why doctors recommend eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables to help protect against radiation (via CBS’ show The Doctors):


Fresh fruits and vegetables are vital to include in your diet. And some – like blueberries – are quite high in antioxidants. But there are actually more concentrated sources of antioxidants which are inexpensive and easy to obtain.

Glutathione – the “master antioxidant”, which is in every cell of your body, and which helps you utilize all the other antioxidants which you ingest – is probably the most important one to focus on.

Numerous studies have shown that glutathione can help protect cells against radiation damage, including studies published in the following journals:

Dr. Jimmy Gutman – a practicing physician, former Undergraduate Director and Residency Training Director of Emergency Medicine at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, who has served on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians – claims:

Raising glutathione levels protects cells from damage from the most dangerous of free radicals, the hydroxyl-radical, is released when ionizing radiation hits us.

Here’s how to boost your glutathione levels.

One source argues:

During exposure to low-level doses (LLD) of ionizing radiation (IR), the most of harmful effects are produced indirectly, through radiolysis of water and formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). The antioxidant enzymes – superoxide dismutase (SOD): manganese SOD (MnSOD) and copper-zinc SOD (CuZnSOD), as well as glutathione (GSH), are the most important intracellular antioxidants in the metabolism of ROS.

Exercise also boosts antioxidants (and see this). So does adequate sleep.

Finally, thinking about radiation may be stressful. But studies show that deep breathing, meditation, yoga, tai chi and other forms of relaxation raise antioxidants and decrease free radicals. Some of the studies can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Other Things Which Offer Some Radiation Protection

Many other foods, herbs and supplements have shown some efficacy in helping to protect against radiation poisoning. This is not intended as a shopping list … there are just too many things to buy, and combining some herbs with others may not be ideal. Rather, this is meant as a resource to keep handy, so that – if you have access to some of these items – you know what some of your options are.

Many inexpensive foods have shown protective properties against radiation, including:

  • Curcurim (and see this) – the active ingredient in turmeric which, in turn, is in yellow curry (available in Indian and Thai dishes)
  • Garlic (one Indian tribe living in the desert of Nevada used to eat bulbs of raw garlic to help protect against radiation from the above-ground nuclear tests)
  • Miso (when it has been “long-fermented”, instead of fermented for a shorter time)
  • Many types of seaweed (see this, this, this and this; but buy seaweed grown outside of Japan and other polluted waters)

Many herbs and supplements available at health food stores or drugstores have shown some protective properties against radiation, including:

  • Chlorella, a blue-green algae (see this and this)
  • Holy basil (and see this; also called tulasi; this is the top herb in traditional Ayurvedic – i.e. Indian – medicine)
  • Panax Ginseng, a traditional “adaptogen” in Chinese medicine (see this and this)
  • Sesamol (an extract from sesame seeds)
  • Spirulina, a blue-green algae available at health food stores

(Consult your qualified healthcare provider before taking any herbs, as they can have side effects. Many of the herbs and supplements work by increasing antioxidants in your body, as discussed above.)

And there is some evidence that brightly-colored produce may have some protective properties.

(And see this and this.)

What To Do If Exposed to Extremely High Doses of Radiation

Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen explains how to reduce exposure in case of a worst case scenario:

[In a worst case scenario, for example, if the fuel pool at Fukushima reactor 4 were to topple over], I would close my windows, turn the air conditioner on, replace the filters frequently, damp mop, put a HEPA filter in the house and try to avoid as much of the hot particles as possible. You are not going to walk out with a Geiger counter and be in a plume that is going to tell you the meter. The issue will be on the West Coast, hot particles. And the solution there is HEPA filters and avoiding them.

Similarly – as geeky as it may look – you might want to consider wearing a dust mask outside during the brief periods that Fukushima might spew out high levels of “hot particles” … especially if the wind is blowing from Japan towards the U.S.:

In addition, rain is one of the primary ways that radiation is spread outside of the vicinity of the nuclear accident. As a parent who doesn’t want to tell my kids they can’t play in the rain, none of this is fun to talk about … but during periods of extremely high airborne radiation releases, people might want to keep their kids out of heavy rain.

Radiative iodine is concentrated in milk. Therefore, when high doses of radioiodine are being released into the air, we might want to avoid milk altogether for a couple of weeks or so. (Radioactive iodine has a half-life of only 8 days. So avoiding local milk for a couple of weeks should help keep you safe.)

Radiation also bioaccumulates in mushrooms. So it might be wise to consider avoiding mushrooms grown in Japan, Hawaii or on the Pacific Coast.

During periods of heavy radiation, you should also rinse your vegetables well before eating them, to wash off any hot particles which may have landed on them.

Evacuation is the most drastic step to take to protect yourself. World renowned physicist Michio Kaku told his Japanese family and friends years ago that they should leave if they can. Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen and physician Helen Caldicott have both said that people should evacuate the Northern Hemisphere if one of the Fukushima fuel pools collapses. Gundersen said:

Move south of the equator if that ever happened, I think that’s probably the lesson there.

The Fukushima pools have not collapsed at this point, and so we’re not suggesting that people leave Hawaii or the West Coast. Indeed, the entire focus of this essay is minimizing risks in our own homes.

Even if you’re hit with large doses of radiation, there are compounds you can take to help protect yourself …

Potassium iodide protects against damage from radioactive iodine, but should only be taken if one is directly exposed to high levels of radioactive iodine, and you should never exceed the recommended dosage.

Other specific substances have been proven to protect against poisoning from exposure to other specific types of radiation:

  • Prussian blue for cesium
  • DTPA for plutonium, americium and curium
  • Sodium bicarbonate (i.e. baking soda) for uranium

These are not candy, and can have their own side effects. So only take them – under guidance from your physician – if you are exposed to high levels of radiation.

You should also make sure you get enough fiber in your diet: Some types of radiation are excreted the old-fashioned way … by pooping them out. For example, prussian blue binds with cesium, and then you excrete it through your bowels. If you’re constipated, you won’t be able to get rid of the radiation. So it’s important to stay regular.

For a more complete discussion of commonly-accepted scientific consensus on different prevention and treatment options, please review the Army’s Medical Consequences of Radiological and Nuclear Weapons and the The American Association of Physicists In Medicine’s Medical Management of Radionuclide Internal Contamination.

* As noted above, you should not take potassium iodide supplements unless you are exposed to high doses of radioactive iodine, because it can damage some people’s health. For chronic low-dose exposure, a daily, baseline level of mineral iodine is much healthier. Potassium iodide is found in most common table salt. However, levels are not uniform, and a lot of “iodized” salt has less than advertised. Here is a list of some iodine-rich foods. And see this.

** After the U.S. military conducted above-ground nuclear tests on Bikini Island, scientists found that adding potassium to the soil reduced the uptake of radioactive cesium by the plants.

John Harte – Professor at the University of California at Berkeley in Energy and Resources and Ecosystem Sciences, a PhD physicist who previously taught physics at Yale, a recipient of the Pew Scholars Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, the Leo Szilard prize from the American Physical Society, and who has served on six National Academy of Sciences Committees and authored over 170 scientific publications, including six books – notes:

Marine fish are usually about 100 times lower in cesium-137 than are freshwater fish because potassium, which is more abundant in seawater, blocks uptake of cesium by marine organisms.

The same may be true in mammals. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry notes:

Cesium is a close chemical analogue of potassium. Cesium has been shown to compete with potassium for transport through potassium channels and can also substitute for potassium in activation of the sodium pump and subsequent transport into the cell.


After 20 days on the diets, rats receiving supplemental potassium had body burdens of 137 Cs that were one-half those of the rats not receiving supplemental potassium. This finding shows that supplemental potassium reduces the uptake and increases the elimination of ingested 137 Cs.

And some physicians believe that the same is true with people, Dr. Ingrid Kohlstadt – a medical doctor with a masters degree in public health, on the Faculty at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, editor of the best-seller Food and Nutrients in Disease Management – says that the same is true for humans.  As does Gabriel Cousins – another medical doctor with an eclectic background – who writes:

To protect yourself from cesium poisoning, consume plenty of high potassium foods ….These foods should provide all you need to block cesium 137 uptake.

Disclaimer: The material contained in this essay is for general informational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. You should consult with your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider before making any decisions about whether or not to take any of the foods, herbs, supplements, substances or actions mentioned herein.

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  • kimyo

    15 mcg (600iu) of vitamin d3 is clearly not sufficient for the vast majority of americans, especially those who are overweight or elderly, have dark skin, or live north of atlanta.

    if it were, we wouldn’t see reports like this:

    Between 1988 and 1994, 45 percent of 18,883 people (who were examined as part of the federal government’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey)
    had 30 nanograms per milliliter or more of vitamin D, the blood level a
    growing number of doctors consider sufficient for overall health; a
    decade later, just 23 percent of 13,369 of those surveyed had at least
    that amount.

    The slide was particularly striking among African Americans: just 3
    percent of 3,149 blacks sampled in 2004 were found to have the
    recommended levels compared with 12 percent of 5,362 sampled two decades

    better to supplement as needed to get your blood levels up around 60-70nmol.

    “I drink plenty of milk. I don’t think I need to take vitamin D.”

    Oh, boy. This is so wrong on so many levels.

    First of all, no adult should be drinking plenty of cow’s milk. (A
    discussion for another day.) Second of all, cow’s milk averages 70 units
    of vitamin D, often the D2 form (ergocalciferol), per 8 oz. Even if the
    FDA-mandated 100 units per day were present, an average adult dose of
    6000 units would require 60 glasses of milk per day.

    and, regarding calcium, it seems to me that by supplementing, we’re solving the wrong problem.

    the real issue is insufficient absorption. phytic acid found in grains bonds with the calcium in our gut before it can be absorbed.

    1. A diet high in phytic acid, which is found in the bran of whole grains,
    is likely to interfere with calcium absorption. This acid binds to a
    variety of minerals including calcium, to form insoluble salts, called
    phytates, which are wasted from the body. Probably because grains are a
    relatively new food, from an evolutionary perspective, it appears that
    we have not yet developed digestive tracts which can break down these

    great calcium video here:

    (i love that guy, he’s kinda like the piers corbyn of the medical set, communicates more info/science/sense in 3 minutes on a whiteboard than you’d find in any hour-long harvard-medical-school-phd powerpoint-slide-laden merck/gsk-sponsored bore-fest).

  • Tonto

    This article it the epitome of kookiness. And, most unfortunately, the article is tacitly suggesting a surrender to worsening nuclear conditions.

    The best approach for protect oneself (and future generations) from nuclear hazards is to shun and demean all science. That means, both the scientists that create nuclear devices, and those scientists who compile the information in scientific articles like this one.

    Both classes of scientists are delusional social parasites that are helping to destroy the world with science. The latter type scientist is acclimating believers in the scientific method to a continuing worsening condition of the world -due entirely to the malady of scientific pollution-.

    There is no reason to tolerate these scientific kooks. Neither type offers anything of human value. They each are seeking a kind of selfish and arrogant self-glorification that is the primary cause of a reduced standard of living on the planet.

    Both types of these immoral scientific quacks work hand in hand. They are each quite equally guilty of crimes against all humanity.

    • thetruth

      So the Nuclear Physicist whistlerblowers that are condemning Nuclear technology and saying it is unsafe should not be trusted? Those same scientists have said what they were taught was a lie that it was safe, but now they know the truth. Even Oppenheimer realized his mistake – humans want to ‘create’ things or discover stuff, but often don’t realize the consequences until it is too late. Oppenheimer also realized his other mistake, since an immoral government would take control of it.

      Get real bro.

  • gozounlimited

    While protecting ourselves from decaying radiation we have also brought on the rain….. see here: You will be relieved to know Cali’s drought and the rest of the nation’s ice capades is not global warming….. or climate change…..

    Whatever it is, don’t call it climate change. At least not yet. “It has nothing to do with climate change or global warming,” stated Cliff Mass, an atmospheric science professor at the University of Washington.

    James Overland, a weather researcher at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, agreed that it’s too early to play the climate card.

    Actually they have been playing the climate card….. the geoengineering climate card. But they think we are stupid and don’t get it. We GET IT!!!!! Why we have rain in No. Cal!

    • gozounlimited

      Before you go to bed tonight….. Central Cal needs to set fans West…. or first thing in the morning. All night would be preferable….. we can draw more rain into Central Cal with the jet stream coming down over us.

    • gozounlimited

      Before you go to bed tonight….. Central Cal needs to set fans West…. or first thing in the morning. All night would be preferable….. we can draw more rain into Central Cal with the jet stream coming down over us.

  • Nine-11 the third truth

    I can no longer recommend InfoWars, Natural News, or Washington’s Blog to others due to the inaccurate and mis-informed hype and fear mongering that these sites convey regarding low-level (i.e., levels below 100 mSv or 10,000 mrem). It is ridiculous.


    The incessant fear-mongering and ill-informed news coverage over the Japanese nuclear power plant disaster insults the memory of those who have actually died from the earthquakes and tsunami. I am also very disappointed with coverage that has said such ridiculous things as, “1 million dead from Chernobyl.” The ignorance of all things radiation among most people is quite alarming. The short article below is adapted and updated from my Master’s thesis. (BS Degree is in Physics.) The following discussion is based on studying nuclear energy and radiation health effects professionally and then as an avocation for 30 years.

    The hormesis phenomenon was first formulated by a physician in the sixteenth century. He learned that every substance could be toxic if given in high enough doses. This physician, called Paracelus, wrote: “What is it that is not poison? All things are poison and none without poison. Only the dose determines that a thing is not poison.” A later Latin translation expressed it thus: “Only the dose makes the poison.” This means that ordinary substances we need in moderate amounts to survive can be a poison if taken in large amounts.

    A common example of hormesis is the essential minerals (trace elements) needed in the human diet. Iron, the first trace element, was discovered to be essential to health in the 17th century. Iodine was found to be essential in the 19th century. Copper, manganese, zinc, cobalt, molybdenum, selenium and chromium were added to this list between 1928 and 1959. Selenium is now recognized as an anti-tumor agent in low doses.

    Radiation from the sun, ultraviolet-B, was discovered to be essential for healthy bones in the early 1900s. The need for traces of these elements and of non-ionizing solar radiation supports the hormesis principle. In excessive amounts UV–B radiation can cause skin cancer, yet it is beneficial to the human body in small amounts when it produces Vitamin D. Lack of iron can cause anemia, lack of iodine – goiters, lack of zinc – skin lesions, lack of selenium – a certain type of heart disease, etc. Thus, there is an optimum level at which these elements contribute to our well-being.

    In a similar fashion, there is abundant data from human populations to indicate that low levels of ionizing radiation (about 10,000 millirem or 100 millisieverts or 100,000 microsieverts per year) are actually beneficial as opposed to being harmful. Even at levels 27 times higher than our normal background radiation (360 mrem or 3.6 mSv per year) the health of living organisms is improved as measured by resistance to disease, fertility, longevity, and other indicators. The inverse correlation between radon levels and lung cancer supports this, as do many other experiments.

    The human body exhibits properties of a complex adaptive system. An agent (radiation) acts on a complex system (human DNA and cells) and the system in turn responds and becomes more resistant to the same agent and others that can cause injury, disease or early death. The system (our body) adapts and evolves which makes it more resilient to future stressors. This is explained further in “The Linear No-Threshold Relationship Is Inconsistent with Radiation Biologic and Experimental Data” .

    Professor Luckey was a prolific researcher in the radiation hormesis field. He re-investigated the data from thousands of experiments done over 80 years. His book, “Radiation Hormesis” (1991), demonstrated hormesis in humans and animals by taking a fresh look at existing data from over 1,000 references. See Luckey’s “Radiation Hormesis: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” for a 22-page overview of hormesis.

    Figure 1 (see link below) compares the assumed linear curve to the more complex hormetic curve defined by actual data from living organisms and humans. Note the reduction in cancer demonstrated by the hockey stick shape of the hormetic curve.

    The International Dose-Response Society , based at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, has continued research and study in this area. Nuclear Energy and Health and the Benefits of Low-Dose Radiation Hormesis (2009) is an excellent 40-page history of radiation, the LNT theory, hormesis and the need to change radiobiology standards. Overly conservative standards are wasting millions of dollars in unneeded environmental clean-up, but even worse, are unnecessarily alarming people.

    The book, Radiation Hormesis and the Linear-No-Threshold Assumption (2009), by Dr. Charles Sanders, is a comprehensive review of all facets of radiation hormesis and is highly recommended. Excerpt from the preface to Sander’s work:

    “The most dishonest, manipulative research I have ever seen in my nearly 50 years of participation in radiobiological research has been published by radiation epidemiologists who are proponents of the LNT assumption. Their hundreds of publications and involvement in national and international radiation protection agencies have put them in a position of power and control within the research establishment. They have continued the deception in spite of overwhelming published, scientific data that clearly demonstrates how wrong the LNT assumption is. . . .

    “The result of this deception is not insignificant: literally millions of lives are less healthy because they have been convinced that living in radiation deficient environments is healthy; lives are lost in not implementing effective low-dose radiation therapy to treat cancer; lives are lost out of fear of diagnostic radiation that saves lives; painful lives of people suffering from chronic inflammatory diseases are not improved by low-dose radiation therapy, which is given without the cost and side-effects of drugs and pain killers. Then there are the annual billions of dollars spent needlessly to protect us from radiation that we need for optimal health. Radiophobia limits the political will of people and governments to promote clean and safe nuclear power in place of traditional highly polluting fossil fuel power sources. Radiophobia prevents the logical and safe burial of nuclear wastes. Radiophobia causes serious psychological effects leading to loss of life (>100,000 abortions and >1,000 suicides attributed to Chernobyl fallout).”

    Unneeded abortions resulted from irrational fear of radiation

    One of the great tragedies of the Chernobyl accident in the Soviet Union in 1986 was the unnecessary aborting of babies due to unfounded radiation scares with their basis in the simplistic LNT model. The fear of radiation in at least two countries, Italy and Greece, resulted in a significant increase in the number of elective abortions. Researchers found an increase of 20 to 52 abortions per day in Italy in the five months after Chernobyl. This means 3,000 to 7,800 additional abortions were done because of poorly informed and hence fear-filled, citizens. The radiation dose from Chernobyl in Italy was less than 200 mrem (2 mSv); measurements of 30 to 60 mrem were actually recorded. Abortions in Greece increased by about 2,100 during the month of May 1986 and the number of live births in January 1987 was 23 percent less than expected. The average radiation dose in Greece from Chernobyl was less than 100 mrem (1 mSv). (Sources: Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy Journal, Vol. 45(6), 1991; and British Medical Journal, 295:1100, 1987; quoted in Health Physics Society Newsletter, June 1992, p.6, and September 1992, p. 5, respectively).

    Lauriston Taylor, D.Sc, former Member ICRP, NCRP Chairman, and special assistant to the President, National Academy of Sciences, has called the use of the LNT model to calculate health effects of low-level radiation “deeply immoral uses of our scientific heritage.”

    The use of a simple model (LNT) in a complex environment (human hormetic response to radiation) has caused unneeded deaths and vast expenditures of taxpayer dollars for unnecessary cleanup. Just as in climate science and the global warming scam, diverse and dissenting contributions are marginalized by the entrained thinking found in government agencies and individuals ignorant of health physics and radiation hormesis. Unless, and until, this is changed society and individuals will continue to suffer the consequences.