Archive for the ‘Women’ Category

Fukushima’s radiation – greater risk for girls

April 26, 2015

it is very important that we recognize the danger posed to children by the routine ingestion of contaminated food with Cesium-137 where ever they might live. It is also important to prevent further nuclear disasters which release these fiendishly toxic poisons into the global ecosystems. Given the immense amounts of long-lived radionuclides which exist at every nuclear power plant this is an urgent task. 

The Implications of The Massive Contamination of Japan With Radioactive Cesium [excellent slides and graphs] 
Steven Starr 
Senior Scientist, Physicians for Social Responsibility 
Director, University of Missouri, Clinical Laboratory Science Program 
Helen Caldicott Foundation Fukushima Symposium New York Academy of Medicine, 11 March 2013 “……..So now that we have some idea of the extreme toxicity of Cesium-137, let’s look at the extent of the contamination of the Japanese mainland.

It is now known that the reactors 1, 2, and 3 at Fukushima Daiichi all melted down and melted through the steel reactor vessels within a few days following the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011. This was not made public by either TEPCO or the Japanese government for two months.

The greatest amounts of highly radioactive gases were released shortly after the meltdowns and 80% of this gas released by the reactors is believed to have traveled away from Japan over the Pacific. However the remaining 20% was dispersed over the Japanese mainland.

On March 11th, the US National Nuclear Security Administration offered the use of its NA-42 Aerial Measuring System to the Japanese and US governments. The National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center of the Lawrence Livermore Lab stood up to provide atmospheric modeling projections. The next two slides were produced by Lawrence Livermore and presumably given to the Japanese government.

On March 14th, the easterly winds which had been blowing the highly-radioactive gases and aerosols coming from Fukushima out to sea, shifted and pushed the radioactive plume back over the Japanese mainland. You can see the progression. The red indicates the radioactive plume.

Note that the images indicate that the plume first went south over Tokyo and then reversed and went north as the wind changed. All the areas where the radioactive gases passed over were contaminated. However the heaviest contamination occurred where rainfall was occurring and the radiation rained out. This accounts for the patchy deposition of the radioactive fallout.

Eight months after the disaster, the Japanese Science Ministry released this map, which shows that 11,580 square miles, which is 30,000 square kilometers, which represents 13% of the Japanese mainland, had been contaminated with long-lived radioactive cesium. Note that the official map does not note any Cesium-137 contamination in the Tokyo metropolitan area, unlike an unofficial survey done at about the same time by Professor Yukio Hayakawa of Gunma University. Given the fact that the Japanese government and TEPCO denied for two months that any meltdowns had occurred at Fukushima, one must look at all official data with a healthy degree of skepticism.

4500 square miles (or earlier today we heard 7700 square miles)—which is an area larger than the size of Connecticut—was found to have radiation levels that exceeded Japan’s previously allowable exposure rate of 1 millisievert per year.

Rather than evacuate this area, Japan chose to raise its acceptable radiation-exposure rate by 20 times, from 1 millisievert to 20 millisieverts per year.

However, approximately 300 square miles adjacent to the destroyed Fukushima reactors were so contaminated that they were declared uninhabitable. 159,000 Japanese were evicted from this radioactive “exclusion zone.” They lost their homes, property, and businesses, and most have received only a small compensation to cover the costs of their living as evacuees.

Note here that the criteria used for evacuation is the millisievert. It is not a measured quantity of radiation per unit area that I have described such as the Curie or Becquerel. Rather the Sievert is a calculated quantity. It’s calculated to represent the biological effects of ionizing radiation. In other words, the millisievert is a derived number, based on the mathematical models which are used to convert the absorbed dose to “effective dose.”

So what is the increased health risk to Japanese based upon their exposure to 20 millisieverts per year? Let us examine figures constructed on the basis of data published by the National Academy of Sciences, courtesy of Ian Goddard.

[Source: National Academy of Sciences, Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation BEIR VII Phase 2 Report: Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation, National Academies Press, 2006, (pg. 311), adjusted 100 millisieverts to 20 millisieverts by Ian Goddard according to BEIR instructions. See chart on page 29 of “Radioactive Emissions and Health Hazards Surrounding Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant,” by Joseph Mangano, MPH, Director Radiation and Public Health Project, and BEST/MATRR Gretel Johnston, June 4, 2013.]
graph-cancer-BEIR-VII

The vertical Y-axis is calibrated to the number of cancer cases per 100,000 age-peers, and the horizontal X-axis depicts the age of the population, beginning at zero years and moving towards old age. Now examine the allegedly safe dose of 20 millisieverts per year.

As a result of this exposure, there will be about 1000 additional cases of cancer in female infants and 500 cases of cancer in infant boys per 100,000 in their age groups. There will be an additional 100 cases of cancer in 30 year old males per 100,000 in this age peer group.

Notice that children, especially girls, are at the most risk from radiation-induced cancer. In fact a female infant has 7 times greater risk and a 5 year old girl has 5 times greater risk of getting a radiation-induced cancer than does a 30 year old man.

I want to note here that there is a great deal of controversy in regards to the accuracy of the methods used to arrive at the millisievert measurement, especially in regard to an accurate determination of the biological effects of an external versus internal exposure to ionizing radiation.

That is, the effects of an exposure to a source of ionizing radiation that is external to the body, versus an exposure that comes from the ingestion of radionuclides that provide a chronic, long-term internal exposure to living cells, which are adjacent to the radioactive atoms or particles.

In the lands surrounding Chernobyl and Fukushima, the primary route of internal exposure is through the ingestion of foodstuffs contaminated with Cesium-137, which tends to bioaccumulate in plants and animals. What this means is that Cesium-137 cannot be excreted faster than it is being ingested. Thus it accumulates and increases in its concentration in the plant or animal that is routinely ingesting it.

Cesium-137 also tends to biomagnify as it moves up the food chain. This means it becomes progressively more concentrated in predator species. We have seen this before with other industrial toxins, such as DDT, which can magnify its concentration millions of times from the bottom to the top of a food chain.

Consequently, all of the foodstuffs in a contaminated region tend to contain Cesium-137. Those naturally rich in potassium, such as mushrooms and berries, tend to have very high concentrations. Dairy products and meats also tend to have higher concentrations.

The International Commission on Radiological Protection, the ICRP, which sets radiation safety standards recognizes that Cesium-137 bioaccumulates in humans. This ICRP figure compares a single ingestion of 1000 Becquerels of Cesium-137, a one-time exposure, with the daily ingestion of 10 Becquerels. On the single exposure notice that half the Cesium-137 is gone from the body in 110 days. That’s considered the biological half-life.

Note also that with the routine daily ingestion of 10 Becquerels of Cesium-137 the total radioactivity within the body continues to rise, until after about 500 days there are more than 1400 Becquerels of radioactivity measured in the body. Becquerels can be counted in living persons because the decay of Cesium-137 leads to the emission of gamma radiation which passes through the body and can be measured by a Whole Body Counter. They have a chair that kids, or anyone, can sit and they can calculate the amount of Becquerels per kilogram of body weight.

n a 70 kilogram adult (based on this), a total body activity of 1400 Becquerels would correspond to 20 Becquerels per kilogram of body weight. In a 20 kilogram child it would be 70 Becquerels per kilogram of body weight. The ICRP document does not specify the average age or weight of those examined in the study. However, the safety standards that have been set by the nuclear industry do not consider this level of chronic exposure to so-called “low-dose” radiation to be a significant danger to human health.

The ICRP states in this document that a whole body activity of 1400 Becquerels is equivalent to an exposure of one-tenth a millisievert per year. In other words, the radiation models used by radiation biologists that convert this level of internal absorbed dose to “effective dose,” do not predict serious health risks from such exposures. In fact they state that it is safe to have 10 times this exposure level.

[Source: ICRP, 2009. Application of the Commission’s Recommendations to the Protection of People Living in Long-term Contaminated Areas After a Nuclear Accident or a Radiation Emergency. ICRP Publication 111. Ann. ICRP 39 (3).]

There is however strong evidence that the ingestion of these levels of so-called “low-dose” radiation are, in fact, particularly injurious to children. Research done by Dr. Yuri Bandazhevsky, and his colleagues and students, in Belarus during the period 1991 through 1999, correlated whole body radiation levels of 10 to 30 Becquerels per kilogram of whole body weight with abnormal heart rhythms and levels of 50 Becquerels per kilogram of body weight with irreversible damage to the tissues of the heart and other vital organs.

One of the key discoveries made by Bandazhevsky was that Cesium-137 bioconcentrates in the endocrine and heart tissues, as well as the pancreas, kidneys and intestines. This goes completely against one of the primary assumptions used by the ICRP to calculate “effective dose” as measured by milliseiverts: that Cesium-137 is uniformly distributed in human tissues.

Let me restate that. The current ICRP methodology is to assume that the absorbed dose is uniformly distributed in human tissues. This is, in fact, not the case.

This table, taken from Bandazhevsky’s “Chronic Cs-137 incorporation in children’s organs,” compares the radioactivity measured in 13 organs of 6 infants. Very high specific activity, that is, levels of radioactivity, often 10 times higher than in other organs and tissues were found in the pancreas, thyroid, adrenal glands, heart, and intestinal walls………

I want to point out again that the currently accepted medical and legal understanding of Cesium-137 is that it is “distributed fairly uniformly” in human tissues. I copied the web page from the US EPA websitefrom which this quote is taken. Clearly, the autopsied human tissue samples analyzed by Bandazhevsky show that this is not the case. This new understanding needs to be incorporated into the way we understand how internally ingested radionuclides act upon the human body.

Two million people in Belarus live on lands severely contaminated by Cesium-137. Most of the children that live there are not considered to be healthy although they were before the nuclear power plant at Chernobyl exploded in 1986. Fourteen years after the explosion, 45 to 47 percent of high school graduates had physical disorders, including gastro-intestinal anomalies, weakened hearts, and cataracts. And 40% were diagnosed with chronic “blood disorders” and malfunctioning thyroids.

I am afraid that there are many Japanese people now living on lands equally contaminated with radioactive cesium. If Japanese children are allowed to routinely ingest foodstuffs contaminated with Cesium-137, they will likely develop the same health problems that we see now in the children and teenagers of Belarus and Ukraine.

Thus it is very important that we recognize the danger posed to children by the routine ingestion of contaminated food with Cesium-137 where ever they might live. It is also important to prevent further nuclear disasters which release these fiendishly toxic poisons into the global ecosystems. Given the immense amounts of long-lived radionuclides which exist at every nuclear power plant this is an urgent task. http://www.ratical.org/radiation/Fukushima/StevenStarr.html

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The women who fought, and held back, the nuclear industry

October 31, 2013

In their determination to publicize its hazards, the intervening women were pioneers alerting the American public to the scientific consensus that all radiation exposure is cumulative and damages cellular DNA.

No Nukes and Intervening Women http://www.huffingtonpost.com/renee-parsons/no-nukes-and-intervening-women_b_1425733.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false#sb=623147b=facebook  Renee Parsons : 04/16/2012 In an era when Occupy Wall Street protestors are beaten and arrested like hardened criminals, more than 40 years ago in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, there was another organized protest movement that captured the nation’s attention as it spread from New Hampshire’s Clamshell Alliance to the Abalone Alliance in southern California..In the mid-to-late 1970s, massive civil disobedience and notably peaceful arrest of protestors were taking place from the tidewater of Virginia to the farmlands of Oklahoma against the construction and operation of commercial nuclear power reactors.

What is less well-known is that at the root of the controversy, prior to public demonstrations of opposition, were a handful of exceptional women, mostly “housewives” whose thankless work done at their dining room tables provided those demonstrators and an uninformed country with the true realities of the “peaceful” atom. (more…)

An especially aggressive form of breast cancer caused by ionising radiation

September 14, 2013

Exposing young girls to ionizing radiation can raise risk of breast cancer later in life   http://www.news-medical.net/news/20130912/Exposing-young-girls-to-ionizing-radiation-can-raise-risk-of-breast-cancer-later-in-life.aspx  12 Sept 13, Exposing young women and girls under the age of 20 to ionizing radiation can substantially raise the risk of their developing breast cancer later in life. Scientists may now know why. A collaborative study, in which Berkeley Lab researchers played a pivotal role, points to increased stem cell self-renewal and subsequent mammary stem cell enrichment as the culprits. Breasts enriched with mammary stem cells as a result of ionizing irradiation during puberty show a later-in-life propensity for developing ER negative tumors – cells that do not have the estrogen receptor. Estrogen receptors – proteins activated by the estrogen hormone – are critical to the normal development of the breast and other female sexual characteristics during puberty.

“Our results are in agreement with epidemiology studies showing that radiation-induced human breast cancers are more likely to be ER negative than are spontaneous breast cancers,” says Sylvain Costes, a biophysicist with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). “This is important because ER negative breast cancers are less differentiated, more aggressive, and often have a poor prognosis compared to the other breast cancer subtypes.”

Costes and Jonathan Tang, also with Berkeley Lab, were part of a collaboration led by Mary Helen Barcellos-Hoff, formerly with Berkeley Lab and now at the New York University School of Medicine, that investigated the so-called “window of susceptibility” known to exist between radiation treatments at puberty and breast cancer risk in later adulthood. The key to their success were two mammary lineage agent-based models (ABMs) they developed in which a system is modeled as a collection of autonomous decision-making entities called agents. One ABM simulated the effects of radiation on the mammary gland during either the developmental stages or during adulthood. The other simulated the growth dynamics of human mammary epithelial cells in culture after irradiation.

“Our mammary gland ABM consisted of millions of agents, with each agent representing either a mammary stem cell, a progenitor cell or a differentiated cell in the breast,” says Tang. “We ran thousands of simulations on Berkeley Lab’s Lawrencium supercomputer during which each agent continually assessed its situation and made decisions on the basis of a set of rules that correspond to known or hypothesized biological properties of mammary cells. The advantage of this approach is that it allows us to view the global consequences to the system that emerge over time from our assumptions about the individual agents. To our knowledge, our mammary gland model is the first multi-scale model of the development of full glands starting from the onset of puberty all the way to adulthood.”

Epidemiological studies have shown that girls under 20 given radiotherapy treatment for disorders such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma run about the same risk of developing breast cancer in their 40s as women who were born with a BRCA gene mutation. From their study, Costes, Tang and their collaboration partners concluded that self-renewal ofstem cells was the most likely responsible mechanism.

Stem cell self-renewal was the only mechanism in the mammary gland model that led to predictions that were consistent with data from both our in vivo mouse work and our in vitro experiments with MCF10A, a human mammary epithelial cell line,” Tang says. “Additionally, our model predicts that this mechanism would only generate more stem cells during puberty while the gland is developing and considerable cell proliferation is taking place.”

Costes and Tang are now looking for genetic or phenotypic biomarkers that would identify young girls who are at the greatest breast cancer risk from radiation therapy. The results of their study with Barcellos-Hoff and her research group show that the links between ionizing radiation and breast cancer extend beyond DNA damage and mutations.

“Essentially, exposure of the breast to ionizing radiation generates an overall biochemical signal that tells the system something bad happened,” Costes says. “If exposure takes place during puberty, this signal triggers a regenerative response leading to a larger pool of stem cells, thereby increasing the chance of developing aggressive ER negative breast cancers later in life.”

Source: DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Female astronauts at greater radiation danger than men are

September 14, 2013

The exposure limits for women are about 20 percent lower compared to men “largely due to additional cancer risk for woman from breast, ovarian, and uterine cancers,

Female Astronauts Face Discrimination from Space Radiation Concerns, Astronauts Say, Space.com by Miriam Kramer, Staff Writer   |   August 27, 2013 Female astronauts have fewer opportunities to fly in space than men partially because of strict lifetime radiation exposure restrictions, astronauts say.

Both male and female astronauts are not allowed to accumulate a radiation dose that would increase their lifetime risk of developing fatal cancer by more than 3 percent. A six-month mission on the International Space Station exposes astronauts to about 40 times the average yearly dose of background radiation that a person would receive living on Earth, NASA spokesman William Jeffs said in an email.

While the level of risk allowed for both men and women in space is the same, women have a lower threshold for space radiation exposure than men, according to physiological models used by NASA. “Depending on when you fly a space mission, a female will fly only 45 to 50 percent of the missions that a male can fly,” Peggy Whitson, the former chief of NASA’s Astronaut Corps, said. “That’s a pretty confining limit in terms of opportunity. I know that they are scaling the risk to be the same, but the opportunities end up causing gender discrimination based on just the total number of options available for females to fly. [That’s] my perspective.” [Radiation Threat for Mars-Bound Astronauts (Video)]

NASA follows radiation exposure recommendations established by the National Council of Radiation Protection and Measurements. The exposure limits for women are about 20 percent lower compared to men “largely due to additional cancer risk for woman from breast, ovarian, and uterine cancers,” Jeffs told SPACE.com……..

“Depending on when you fly a space mission, a female will fly only 45 to 50 percent of the missions that a male can fly,” Peggy Whitson, the former chief of NASA’s Astronaut Corps, said. “That’s a pretty confining limit in terms of opportunity. I know that they are scaling the risk to be the same, but the opportunities end up causing gender discrimination based on just the total number of options available for females to fly. [That’s] my perspective.” [Radiation Threat for Mars-Bound Astronauts (Video)]

NASA follows radiation exposure recommendations established by the National Council of Radiation Protection and Measurements. The exposure limits for women are about 20 percent lower compared to men “largely due to additional cancer risk for woman from breast, ovarian, and uterine cancers,” Jeffs told SPACE.com…… http://www.space.com/22252-women-astronauts-radiation-risk.html

Breast cancer threat from 3D mammograms

April 12, 2013

New 3-D Mammography is Basically a CT Scan for Breasts

The procedures give women twice as much radiation as a standard mammogram

New 3D Mammography Significantly Increases Radiation Exposure, and Your Risk of Radiation-Induced Cancer Mercola.com February 19, 2013 By Dr. Mercola

Breast cancer is big business, and mammography is one of its primary profit centers. This is why the industry is fighting tooth and nail to keep it, by downplaying or outright ignoring its significant risks.

In the US, women are still urged to get an annual mammogram starting at the age of 40, completely ignoring the updated guidelines set forth by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force in 2009.

Unfortunately, many women are completely unaware that the science simply does not back up the use of routine mammograms as a means to prevent breast cancer death.

As was revealed in a 2011 meta-analysis by the Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews, mammography breast cancer screening led to 30 percent overdiagnosis and overtreatment, which equates to an absolute risk increase of 0.5 percent. (more…)

Problems of brachytherapy treatment for breast cancer

May 6, 2012

It’s important for any woman really to discuss with her physician the risks and benefits of either approach,”

More women need breasts removed after brachytherapy  By Genevra Pittman NEW YORK   May 1, 2012   (Reuters Health) – Women who got seed radiation as part of their breast cancer treatment were more likely to have an infection or breast pain than those who were treated with whole-breast irradiation, in a new study. (more…)