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US Autism & Asperger Association
March 28, 2011

Tsunami Radiation Hits North America: What Should You Do?

Commentary by Phillip C. DeMio, MD
Chief Medical Officer, US Autism & Asperger Association
President, American Medical Autism Board

They’re here: those radioactive particles from the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s 6 tsunami-busted nuclear reactors in Japan. News reports and statements from official US & international organizations are verifying the presence along North America’s west coast of heightened levels of radiation, despite the initial word that it wouldn’t happen. At first we were told it wasn’t happening, but then the news worsened daily, with the initial detection having been noted over Seattle and southwestern Canada on Friday, March 18th, 2011. Then the information was that it’s not enough radiation to hurt a baby (sounds familiar).

"I encourage, as I always have, for each of us to form her or his own opinion. If you feel comfortable that there’s no danger of radiation here, or that the amount is “too low to be harmful,” then feel free to make no adjustments, as I respect any sincere opinion."

Now, officials from Japan and around the world have warned against food and water consumption of Japanese products, and the US government has banned their import. Our nation is reportedly evacuating its citizens from Japan, while mixed advice variably says that the radiation is not harmful, because the cancers, thyroid disease, and birth defects it might cause are “so miniscule” that it’s only a few thousand cases of exposures, deaths, or illnesses at most within major populations in the Americas, Africa, and western Asia. Recall the pollution cloud from Asia that settles on us via rain and over-land weather phenomena, pelting the coast and the Midwest with mercury and other pollutants.

Yes, I know, it’s been said that we have our own pollution in the US, Canada, and Mexico, and that there are opinions all over the “map” (literally & figuratively) about dangers, if any, from pollution or radiation in any of these settings.

So I’ll cut to it: I encourage, as I always have, for each of us to form her or his own opinion. If you feel comfortable that there’s no danger of radiation here, or that the amount is “too low to be harmful,” then feel free to make no adjustments, as I respect any sincere opinion.

"Our family members and patients with Autism Spectrum Disorders are at greater risk, too, due to metabolic and detox deficiencies, so these options are even more important for them."

But the patronizing reports do not comfort nor convince me. If you look at each of several disease outcomes (cancers, accelerated aging, and immune disease) that are always thought to result (increase) when excess radiation exposure occurs, then the ultimate amount of disease in total is higher than some tidy demonstration of an “immeasurable change” in the rate of one these diseases. That’s why such oxymorons don’t appease my concerns for my family nor for my patients. It’s even greater if you total the would-be effects over time, as much of the effect won’t manifest for years (much of that very information comes from Japan, but many current Japanese sources seem to say the opposite during this crisis). Further, there are several types of cancers and thyroid diseases that result from radiation exposure, so the totals become even greater when all the effects are considered.

So what do we do? For those of us who believe as I do that we are now exposed to excess radiation (by land, sea, and air), and that we are now at greater risk of the above-noted issues, we can be proactive. Potassium iodide at 1 milligram per day (for any size or age person), and with glutathione (or N-acetylcysteine [NAC]) in any of their forms, is the combination I’m generally recommending. This includes pregnant and nursing women (who themselves and their fetuses are at even greater risk), but they should discuss usage with their doctor, as should everyone.

"You may have noticed that I’m not recommending the huge doses of potassium iodide that others are espousing. Many people will get fevers, rashes, & eventual thyroid dysfunction at the high doses..."

Many practitioners haven’t formed an opinion on this, though, and they may not be familiar with these treatments, so many of them perhaps don’t offer a response to the radiation (rubber-stamping the hands-off party-line position).

Our family members and patients with Autism Spectrum Disorders are at greater risk, too, due to metabolic and detox deficiencies, so these options are even more important for them. I’m having people continue these supplements for a month, which, though arbitrary, gives us time to see (and hope for) if and when the radiation dissipates.

Sulfur-intolerant individuals can substitute vitamin C for the glutathione or for the NAC; for many persons who have oxalate issues, supplemental vitamin C is often not an option, so antioxidants such as enhanced-absorption curcuma, CoQ10, or bioflavonoids (e.g. cherry/berry extracts) can be used. Water that has been bottled before the radiation had reached your home continent is also a good idea, though most home filtration is expected to remove much (not all) of the radiocharged particles.

"These are my opinions, and they are preliminary and informational, so consulting your practitioner is best..."

You may have noticed that I’m not recommending the huge doses of potassium iodide that others are espousing. Many people will get fevers, rashes, & eventual thyroid dysfunction at the high doses, and we are not dealing with ground zero exposure in most cases outside of those near the reactors in Japan. Also, I’m generally having even those persons with no functioning thyroid gland use the iodine, as many radioactive molecules (not just radioiodine) are blocked throughout the body by potassium iodide.

These are my opinions, and they are preliminary and informational, so consulting your practitioner is best, though he or she may rubber-stamp the party line, and they may advise no proactive response, contrary to the above options. Keep yourself updated on the situation out of Japan, as modifications of the above may occur. Sincere best hopes for you and for our fellow citizens in Japan during this time.

Respectfully,
Phillip C. DeMio, MD

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