Archive for the ‘Women’ Category

Women, today and always, understand and fight the peril of nuclear war, nuclear pollution

April 2, 2018

WOMEN WILL RID THE WORLD OF NUCLEAR BOMBS, While Trump and Kim Jong-un plan to compare button sizes, female activists are working to erase nuclear threat. But will it be enough?, Dame,  

During this dangerous time, women are leading the charge to eradicate weapons of mass destruction and forestall nuclear war. We saw this most recently in the 2017 U.N. Treaty to Prohibit the Use of Nuclear Weapons. Approved with 122 states voting for, and one against, it is the first legally binding global ban on nuclear weapons, with the intention of moving toward their complete elimination. The preamble to the treaty recognizes the maltreatment suffered as a result of nuclear weapons, including the disproportionate impact on women and girls, and on indigenous peoples around the world. The treaty has been predominantly championed and promoted by women.

My interest in nuclear issues began nearly 10 years ago when I first uncovered my mother’s work as an antinuclear activist with a group called Women Strike for Peace. I have been following women doing nuclear activism all over the world—writing about them, protesting with them, teaching about them in my university classes—and I often bring my daughter with me. My mother’s story is being passed down through an intergenerational maternal line, and with it, the activism that may help save the world, or at least help shift its view on disastrous weapons. Learning about my mother’s work radically changed my perception of her. It also changed my life.

Between 1945 and 1963, more than 200 atmospheric, underwater, and space nuclear bomb tests were conducted by the U.S., primarily in the Nevada desert and the Marshall Islands. Hundreds more took place around the world. In many instances citizens were not informed of the tests, nor were they warned of their effects. The negative health impacts of the testing and exposure to ionizing radiation turned out to be vast: early death, cancer, heart disease, and a range of other incurable illnesses, including neurological disabilities, weakened immune systems, infertility, and miscarriage. Ionizing radiation damages genes (it is mutagenic), so the health ramifications of exposures are passed down through the generations.

In the 1950s, scientists concerned with the health impacts of bomb testing and the spread of ionizing radiation conducted the St. Louis Baby Tooth Survey. The survey showed that radioactive fallout had traveled far and wide. Cow and breast milk contaminated with the isotope strontium 90 had entered children’s teeth. Strontium 90 metabolizes as calcium and these isotopes remain active in the body for many years. When Dagmar Wilson and Bella Abzug—who went on to become a Congresswoman and co-founder of the National Women’s Political Caucus with Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan—learned the results of the Baby Tooth Survey, they formed Women Strike for Peace. The group brought together concerned mothers from across the U.S. The women organized. First within their communities. And then, 50,000 mothers protested across the country, and 15,000 descended on Washington, D.C. for Women’s Strike for Peace Lobbying Day on November 1, 1961. My mother was one of those 15,000 protestors. The group’s efforts brought vast political attention to the dire health consequences of radioactive fallout and led to the banning of atmospheric bomb testing by the U.S., Great Britain, and the former Soviet Union in 1963, with the signing of the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Women Strike for Peace reflects a cultural nuclear gender binary—with women constructed as peaceful antinuclear protectors of children and the nation, and men positioned as perpetrators of nuclear war—the designers, planners, and regulators of weapons of mass destruction.

Has this exclusion of women from nuclear decision-making led to our current crisis—a host of locations worldwide contaminated with radioactive waste, and the great potential for nuclear war? Leading anti-nuclear activists seem to think so.

Since the dawn of the nuclear age men have dominated and controlled nuclear weapons design and policy. As Benjamin A. Valentino, Associate Professor of Government, and Coordinator, War and Peace Studies Program, Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College says, it is only recently that women have had access to positions of power in the military sphere. This is true in weapons’ sciences and engineering as well. While many women worked on the Manhattan Project, most held administrative roles. Has this exclusion of women from nuclear decision-making led to our current crisis—a host of locations worldwide contaminated with radioactive waste, and the great potential for nuclear war? Leading anti-nuclear activists seem to think so.

Carol Cohn, founding director of the Consortium on Gender, Security and Human Rights at the University of Massachusetts-Boston suggests that nuclear-weapons discourse is deeply rooted in hegemonic patriarchy. In nuclear techno-language metaphors of male sexual activity are used to describe nuclear violence. Nuclear missiles are referred to in phallic terms. The violence of nuclear war is described in abstract and impersonal terms, such as “collateral damage.” In her recent New York Times op-ed, Cohn finds it unsurprising that hypermasculine nuclear language has surfaced so blatantly today with Trump’s tweets about the size of his nuclear button and his overall muscular championing of expanding the nuclear weapons complex.

Following the Women Strike for Peace model, legions of anti-nuclear NGOs worldwide are predominantly led by women, including Women’s Action for Nuclear Disarmament, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Reaching Critical Will, the German Green Party, Mothers for Peace, Just Moms (St. Louis), International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp, Green Action Japan, the women of Koondakulam in India, the antinuclear nuns Megan Rice, Ardeth Platte, Carol Gilbert, and many more.

At the U.N. conference to ban nuclear weapons in 2017, I asked Civil Society experts and participants about the importance of women as leaders in the antinuclear movement, and about the hegemony of masculinity in the nuclear weapons complex.

“Of course many men support disarmament and have participated in the treaty and current anti-nuclear efforts in general, but women overwhelmingly lead,” said Tim Wright, of the Australian branch of ICAN. ICAN won the 2017 Nobel Prize for their work on The Treaty to Prohibit the Use of Nuclear Weapons.

Ray Acheson, of Reaching Critical Will, said the proliferation of nuclear weapons is deeply embedded in “a misogynist and hegemonic culture of violence.” She stated this culture is oppressive to women, LGBTQ, the poor, and people of color, and, “we must smash patriarchy.” Such is the feminist cry heard around the world, but in this case, it might actually save us.

Beatrice Fihn, director of ICAN, explained that men are raised to be violent, to think it’s necessary to resolve differences through force, while “women, conversely, are socially trained to negotiate and compromise.”

According to Fihn, the problem in a patriarchal world is that peaceful negotiations are viewed as weak. The U.S. misogynist-in-chief feels we must drop nuclear bombs, expand our nuclear arsenal, and strong-arm competing nations, such as North Korea and Russia. The very act of supporting disarmament efforts in a patriarchal framework places “you in a feminine category,” Fihn stressed. “Those in favor of abolishing nuclear weapons, whether male or female, are characterized in negative, feminized terms. This characterization must be changed. It is not weak to abolish weapons of mass destruction. It is life-affirming.”

Women better understand this because they are the ones in charge of improving quality of life for all. Women most often function as caretakers of children and the elderly, they are aware of the human cost of war and radioactive disaster. When thinking about nuclear war, they wonder, if war breaks out, “How will we feed our children, how will we feed our sick? What will happen to our communities?” Fihn says she fears nuclear violence in respect to the safety of her own children. Fihn’s concern for her children echoes the concerns of my mother and her antinuclear cohort in the 1950s and ’60s. Like Fihn, they worked to save their children—all children—from radiation contamination and nuclear war. I hope I can carry on that legacy, and that my daughter chooses to pick up the cause as well.

For the 2017 UN Treaty to Prohibit the Use of Nuclear Weapons, women helped prepare key elements of the document and gave vital health testimony. Particularly poignant were tales from Australian Indigenous, Marshallese, and Hibakusha (Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors) women. I interviewed many of these women. Abacca Anjain-Madison, a former Senator of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, told me that between 1946 and 1958, the U.S. conducted 67 nuclear bomb tests on the Atoll Islands. Many babies born during the testing period resembled jellyfish and died quickly after their births. The Marshallese developed very high rates of cancer (and other diseases) as a result of ionizing radiation exposures. Now, with climate change, the radioactive dangers persist. Rising sea levels threaten the Runit Dome—a sealed space that contains large amounts of radioactive contamination. The dome has also begun to crack, and the U.S. has no plans to assist Marshallese with this crisis. They finished the cleanup and sealed the dome in 1979. Abacca Anjain-Madison asserts the clean up was not sufficient and the dome was never meant to be permanent. The Marshallese to do not have the means to protect themselves from the impending disaster.

Mary Olson, Southeast Director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, gave a presentation at the UN on the unequal health impacts of radiation exposures. Women remain unaccounted for in nuclear regulatory safety standards. Based on the data set from the BEIR VII report that both Olson and Dr. Arjun Makhijani, President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research have studied, women are twice as likely to get cancer, and nearly twice as likely than men to die from cancer associated with ionizing radiation exposures. Children are five to 10 times more likely to develop cancer in their lifetimes from radiation exposures than adult males, and girls are most vulnerable of all. Scientists do not yet understand why there is an age and gender disparity. The standard “reference man” by which radiation safety regulations are set are based on a white adult male. Olson and Makhijani argue that safety regulations must change to account for age and gender disparities. Further studies are needed to assess how people of different races are impacted by radiation exposures. To date, no such completed studies exist.

At the closing of the conference and signing of the 2017 UN Treaty to Prohibit the Use of Nuclear Weapons, two speeches were made—one by Setsuko Thurlow, a Hiroshima survivor, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and leading campaigner for the prohibition of nuclear weapons. Abacca Anjain-Madison of the Marshall Islands also spoke.

Setsuko Thurlow told her story of beholding the bomb dropping on her city in 1945. She described how, as an 13-year-old child, she witnessed the death of her brother, and “unthinkable” violence thrust upon on her people. For Thurlow, the signing of the UN Treaty to ban nuclear weapons is a miracle, but she believes we must rid the world of weapons entirely. She will not give up her efforts until that day comes. Neither will I.

Heidi Hutner is a writer and professor at Stony Brook University in New York. She teaches and writes about ecofeminism, literature, film and environmental studies. Currently, Hutner is working on a narrative nonfiction book manuscript titled, “Accidents Can Happen: Women and Nuclear Disaster Stories From the Field.”   Find her @HeidiHutner


Gender and Radiation: Women and Children Require More Protection

April 2, 2018

Today is International Women’s Day  “a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.” 
 There are many such women in the anti-nuclear movement.  For example..
Mary Olson is the Founder of the Gender and Radiation Impact Project and is clear her life’s mission is to bring to light the disproportionate impact of radiation on girls and women. Over her long career, Olson has studied radiation health consequences with some of the leading radiation researchers of the 20 th Century including Rosalie BertellAlice StewartHelen Caldicott and Wing, and was featured in the educational film “ The Ultimate Wish: Ending the Nuclear Age” Through her work as a staff biologist and policy analyst at Nuclear Information and Resource Service , she has worked for decades to improve public policy on highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel and plutonium
Below is an excellent fact sheet from the Nuclear Information and Resource Service

Women & Children Require More Protection from

Ionizing Radiation than Men

NAS Findings: Adult Males are Group Most
Resistant to getting Cancer from Radiation
There is no safe dose of ionizing radiation: any
exposure of living cells to sub-atomic particles
(alpha, beta, neutron) or waves of energy (gamma,
X-ray) ejected from unstable radioactive atoms
has the potential to trigger cancer in people.i
Men get cancer from exposure to radiation, and
men die from that cancer, however, for reasons
not yet fully understood , fewer males get cancer
and fewer of them die from it compared to
females of the same age at the same level of
radiation exposure. The difference is not small:
for every two men who get cancer, three women
suffer this disease. These findings of physical
difference (not based on behavior) of 40% — 60%
more cancer in women compared to men come
from the (US) National Academy of Sciences
(NAS), Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation
(BEIR) Report number VII, published in 2006 ii
It has been common knowledge that children’s
bodies are the most vulnerable to radiation
impacts, but from BEIR VII we also learn that
little girls (age 0 — 5 years) are twice as likely to
suffer harm from radiation (defined in BEIR VII
as cancer) as little boys in the same age group. iii
In October 2011, NIRS published a briefing paper
Atomic Radiation is More Harmful to Women iv
containing more details about these findings. The
numbers in the BEIR VII tables are the source of
this new information. Gender difference is not
discussed in the report text.
Not every dose of radiation results in detectable
harm–cells have repair
mechanisms. However,
every exposure carries the potential for harm; and
that potential is tied to age of exposure and
Radiation Exposure Standards Based on Adult
Male Body
While we cannot see or
otherwise detect radiation with
our senses, we can see its
When the  first regulations were made, it was because
soldiers and scientists in the U.S. (virtually all
male to begin with) were working on building
nuclear weapons. The first standards were
“allowable” limits for exposing these men to a
known hazard.
Radiation Levels v Dose
Geiger counters and other devices can detect
levels of radiation and concentrations of
radioactivity.  It is much more difficult to say how much of that energy has impacted a living body (dose). Dose is calculated based on body size, weight, distance from the source and assumptions about biological impact. Gender is not factored in a typical determination of a dose. Historically the “dose receptors” were male, and were of a small age range. It is somewhat understandable that the “Reference Man”v was based on a “Standard Man”–a guy of a certain height, weight and age. Clearly such assumptions are no longer valid when there is such a striking gender difference– 40% to 100% greater likelihood of cancer or cancer death (depending on the age) for females, compared to

Not Only Cancer

Radiation harm includes not only cancer and leukemia, but reduced immunity, reduced fertility, increases in other diseases including heart disease, birth defects including heart defects, other mutations (both heritable and not). When damage is catastrophic to a developing embryo, spontaneous abortion or miscarriage of a pregnancy may result.vii

Gender Mechanism Not Yet Described

Perhaps the reason that the National Academy of Sciences does not discuss the fact that gender has such a large impact on outcome of exposure to radiation is that the causal  mechanism is not yet described.

Dr. Rosalie Bertell, one of the icons of research and education on radiation health effects, suggests that one basis may be that the female body has a higher percentage of reproductive tissue than the male body. Dr. Bertell points to

studies showing reproductive organs and tissues are more sensitive to radiation. Nonetheless, Dr. Bertell is clear: “While research is clearly needed, we should PROTECT FIRST.”

Ignoring Gender Results in More Harm

The NAS BEIR VII findings show that males of all ages are more resistant to radiation exposure than females, and also that all children are more vulnerable than adults. The only radiation standard certain to protect everyone is zero. Given the fact that there is no safe dose of radiation, it is an appropriate goal. Any additional exposure above unavoidable naturally occurring radiation should include full disclosure and concurrence of the individual. It is time to adopt non-radioactive practices for making energy, peace, security and healing.

03/10/2012 Mary Olson, NIRS Southeast / 828-252-8409

i See
ii BEIR VII, Table 12D‐3 page 312, National Academy Press (Washington, DC) 2006.
iii BEIR VII page 311, Table 12‐D 1.
iv NIRS: Atomic Radiation is More Harmful to Women df
vICRP Publication 23: Reference Man: Anatomical, Physiological and Metabolic Characteristics, 1st Edition

vi IEER: The use of Reference Man in Radiation Protection Standards and Guidance with Recommendations for Change
vii Non‐cancer health effects are documented in classic works of John Gofman, for instance Radiation and Human Health (Random House 1982) and digital documents available: and Dr. Rosalie Bertell’s classic work No Immediate Danger, Summer Town Books, 1986.

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.]

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.

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  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  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, 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……..

“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……

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 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…)