In my homepage blog, I reviewed the different
types of radiation and the detrimental health effects that can occur from
over-exposure. This blog also helped me connect some dots on the various forms
of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) and how ionizing and nonionizing radiation
both have biological effects. Currently, there is no controversy that ionizing
radiation can cause harmful effects in our body such as genetic alterations. These
forms of radiation are also classified as known human carcinogens.
However, what if the cellular poison is also
the cure? I’m speaking of radiation therapy, which is used in cancer treatment
to kill cancer cells. This is a form of ionizing radiation which is known to
cause DNA breaks and cellular death of malignant cells. The problem with this therapy
is the “side effects” that come with also killing off healthy cells.
According to the National Institute of Cancer:
radiation side effects are caused by damage to rapidly dividing normal cells in
the area being treated. These effects include skin irritation or damage at
regions exposed to the radiation beams. Examples include damage to the salivary
glands or hair loss when the head or neck area is treated, or urinary problems
when the lower abdomen is treated…
is a common side effect of radiation therapy regardless of which part of the
body is treated. Nausea with or without vomiting is common when the abdomen is
treated and occurs sometimes when the brain is treated. Medications are
available to help prevent or treat nausea and vomiting during treatment.
side effects of radiation therapy may or may not occur. Depending on the area
of the body treated, late side effects can include (1):
- Fibrosis (the
replacement of normal tissue with scar tissue, leading to restricted
movement of the affected area).
- Damage to the
bowels, causing diarrhea and bleeding.
- Memory loss.
(inability to have a child).
- Rarely, a second
cancer caused by radiation exposure. Second cancers that develop after
radiation therapy depend on the part of the body that was treated.
Effects of Radiation on Your Brain: Is Zapping Cancer Cells Causing Harm
Research has shown in several studies that patients
with brain cancer who received radiation alone or with chemotherapy had negative
impacts on their brain. Health Day
research included 14 glioblastoma patients who underwent 35 weeks of combined
radiation and chemotherapy (chemoradiation) after having their tumors
surgically removed. The patients had brain scans before and after chemoradiation,
but an adequate number of images were obtained from only eight of the patients.
Those images revealed a significant decrease in whole brain volume — the
overall amount of brain tissue — throughout chemoradiation.
reduced amount of brain tissue became apparent within a few weeks after the
start of chemoradiation and was primarily seen in gray matter. The scans also
showed that the size of the brain’s ventricles — cerebrospinal fluid-filled
spaces deep within the brain — grew progressively larger during
chemoradiation. Changes were also detected within the subventricular zone, one
of two structures in which new brain cells are generated in adults. The study
was published recently in the journal Neurology.
Another earlier study in Neurology also reported on 12 patients treated with whole brain
radiotherapy (WBRT) as a sole treatment or in combination with surgery. The
authors concluded, “Within 5 to 36 months
(median, 14) all patients developed progressive dementia, ataxia, and urinary
incontinence causing severe disability in all and leading to death in 7.” Furthermore,
there was atrophy found in all the brains studied as evidenced by CT scans.
A small, longitudinal study with 14 patients
reported their results as follows, “We present evidence of significant and
progressive treatment-associated structural brain changes in patients with
glioblastoma treated with standard chemoradiation. Future studies using
longitudinal neuropsychological evaluation are needed to characterize the
functional consequences of these structural changes.”
Furthermore, according to the medical journal, Cancer, “Researchers from the Department
of Radiation Oncology at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center report
that radiation treatment transforms cancer cells into treatment-resistant
breast cancer stem cells, even as it kills half of all tumor cells.”
Therapies and Precautions to Reduce Exposures
Therefore, since we are being exposed to
radiation, not only in our environment, but also as a form of treatment, it
makes sense to decrease the exposure that we can and to protect healthy cells. According
to GreenMed Info, the following can be down to mitigate risk of exposure:
most obvious solution to reducing internal exposure to radiation would be to
reduce external exposure. Of course avoiding or at least minimizing exposure is
paramount but may be difficult when some exposure is out of our control.
Although it is nearly impossible to assess uptake and storage of radioactive
elements without full analysis of tissue, bones, or teeth, the EPA has created
an algorithm for attempting to estimate ongoing radiation exposure.  The following key points can help you minimize your
exposure to ionizing radiation.
- Exposure to
X-rays, especially CT scans should be minimized or avoided if possible.
- Minimize air
travel as much as possible.
- Avoid living
within 20 miles of a nuclear facility or coal-fired plant; avoid food and
water that may be contaminated by facility activities.
- Have drinking
and well water tested for radon and other contamination.
radioactive elements, including Sr-90, can be removed from water via
reverse osmosis or distillation.  Be sure to
replace essential minerals and trace elements lost in the process of
reverse osmosis, purification, or distillation.
exposure to UV light from tanning beds  or
even excessive exposure from the sun. Remember stratospheric ozone
protects us from solar radiation but this protection is diminished as the
ozone layer is depleted.  For extended periods
in the sun, it is best to cover up with clothing and hats and avoid
chemical-bases sunscreens that may be harmful. Also most sunscreens don’t
protect against damaging UVA radiation. 
- It is
important to have enough sun exposure to synthesize and maintain adequate
vitamin D levels in the body but not to cause sunburn. The Linus Pauling
Institute recommends that adults supplement with at least 2,000 IU (50
mcg) daily and maintain a serum level of at least 80 nmol/L (32 ng/mL). 
- Consume a
diet rich in plant-based foods and their protective phytonutrients.
- Consume a
nutrient-dense diet and supplement as needed to maintain tissue saturation
of essential nutrients (i.e. selective uptake).
In the following weeks, I will provide a
summary of some supplements and other natural methods which stemmed from the
above article as well as a few other pearls that I found in research that can
also support the body when exposed to radiation.