Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Japan, Radiation & Destiny 4

In this series, we further discuss the effects of radiation on biological systems.

How do different types of radiation affects living cells?


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DNA Repair Mechanisms & Cancer
The repair mechanism using default methods substitutes another Nucleic Acid and changes the entire message that that portion of the DNA represents. Now suppose that the damage occurred in the DNA where the gene was coding the antiproliferative (non-growth) activity of the cell, but with this dislodgement and disruption via change of the Nucleic Acid that code now no longer suppresses the growth activity. The cell is given the go-ahead signal to multiply without restriction and cancer results. That is akin to taking the foot of the brakes and jamming down the accelerator in the car. This disruptive action can also result in another portion of the DNA relegated to the Chromosome 9 in the long arm at position 21 which can lead to heart disease. So modulation of the DNA not only affects cancer formation it can lead to other disease as well.

A disruption of an Alpha-1-Antitrypsin enzyme produced in the lung suddenly stops being produced due to the disrupted gene code by an accidental damage from a wayward electron can lad to Emphysema. The list goes on and on. The “out-of-nowhere” disease emergence, during the aging process in humans, has a causal basis in the environs and within us.

The energetic electron can also by virtue of affecting the hydroxyl (OH) group release nascent “free radicals” which essentially means that an electron was stripped out of the oxygen’s outer shell rendering it nascent and making it look for a source to feed itself on other easily derived electrons through disrupting cellular makeup. This frenzied feeding by the nascent oxygen to satisfy its appetite, leads to similar disruption of the proteins, DNA, RNA and all building blocks of the human cellular mechanism and can lead to aforementioned cell death or disease.

Inside mitochondria, reactive oxygen species (ROS), or free radicals, byproducts of the constant production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) via oxidative phosphorylation, create a highly oxidative environment that is known to damage Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Superoxide Desmutase is a critical enzyme that counters such activity in the cellular machinery and is present in both the mitochondria and cytoplasm of eukaryotic cells.  Here is a short video explaining how free radicals work.  If you cannot see the embedded video, here is the link: http://youtu.be/s3lX67swZWk.

Radiation Poisoning
Acute Radiation Poisoning is a phenomenon when the body is espoused to a large amount of radioactivity. The former Soviet KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko was deliberately poisoned by polonium-210 and died soon thereafter. 
Alexander Litveninko

It is estimated that 1Gy would enable such an event. This acute illness occurs as a result of damage to the fast-replicating cells such as those found in the skin (radiation burns), in the gastrointestinal tract (Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea), blood cells (Low white counts and platelet counts leading to infections and bleeding), Immune surveillance, tracheal burns and oral cavity (mouth) sores and bleeding.  Here is a video about the death of Alexander Litveninko.  If you cannot see the embedded video, here is the link: http://youtu.be/WXoYmnx0K5I.

I-131 and Graves Disease

The chronic nature of radiation damage is essentially a torrid affair between the radiation damage to the cellular DNA and the months and years it takes to create the cancerous tumor. The most common forms of cancer related disease include the Leukemias, Lymphomas and solid tumors such as Thyroid cancer. Thyroid cancer occurs by virtue of the I-131 finding a safe haven in the thyroid, since the thyroid gland is the pooled reservoir of all iodine in the body. I-131 emits 14 gammas and 6 beta decays and that is how it is used in the treatment of Graves Disease (Hyperthyroidism). 
Graves Disease (Hyperthyroidism)

The beta decay causes 90% of the tissue damage to the thyroid gland leading to a hypothyroid state.  Excess of the I-131 exposure when ingested through water or fish/animal food as in a nuclear fallout the I-131 after saturating the thyroid follicles finds other organs to bio-accumulate within like bone, liver, lung and kidneys where it creates cellular disruptive mischief.
Enlarged Thyroid

Radiation as Therapy for Cancer?
So if radiation is so bad for us then why do we use radiation therapy as a treatment? Before human knowledge had achieved its current state of understanding, self-made ”therapists” were touting the benefits of radioactive fluid lavages and enemas as panacea for all disease. It was another Nobel Laureate Hermann Joseph Muller who in 1927 discovered the genetic mutational effect caused by radioactivity. Only when the dangers became predictably known with this “therapy” did the FDA outlaw the practice.   A classic example of the misuse of radiation was the "flouroscope."  Here is a short video from a segment of a History Channel which demonstrates this.  If you cannot see the embedded video, here is the link: http://youtu.be/CwbJS74OKes.

It is now known that bioaccumulated uranium in the tissues leads to Binucleated cells with micronuclei, Inhibition of cell cycle kinetics and proliferation; Sister chromatid induction, tumorigenic phenotype. Knowing the affinity of radiation to disrupt the cellular function and knowledge about the acceleration of the electron/photons via the electromagnetic wave came to reveal the benefits of radiation as a treatment methodology for cancer.
click to enlarge

Linear Accelerators
Linear Accelerators were developed to accelerate electrons and then through focused beams these electrons/photons were directed at the source in this case a tumor to destroy the tumor without affecting the normal tissues. R. Wideroe built the first linear accelerator in 1928, accelerating positive ions to about 50 keV. This ability improved over time from the Cobalt-60 that was a byproduct created in the Nuclear Reactors and used for cancer therapy. Unfortunately it cast a large damaging penumbra effect on normal non-cancerous tissues and with innovation lead to the focused IMRT (Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy) and IGRT (Image Guided Radiation Therapy) therapies available today. Now high-energy accelerators SLAC (3-km long at Stanford University, CA) are capable of harnessing more energetic photons/electrons (Energies up to 50GeV) to deliver precise doses to the embedded tumors. Meanwhile newer modalities like Proton Beam therapy that use massive particles such as protons or alpha particles to deposit the bulk of their energy in the tumor bed are being used in cancer care. (This maximal accumulated dose before rapid decline is called the Bragg Peak. 
Bragg Peak

Using Bragg peak helps direct the radiation energy precisely to the tumor without exposing the normal intervening tissue).

Boron Neutron Capture Therapy (BNCT) is under development, In BNCT; boron is synthesized into compounds that are selectively taken up by cancerous cells in the brain and not by healthy ones. It is being utilized in Brain tumors like Glioblastoma Multiformi with greater success.  We show you a short video about how modern linear accelerators work today.  If you cannot see the embedded video here is the link: http://youtu.be/jSgnWfbEx1A.


Do we need protection against radioactivity? The answer is: Absolutely (as much as possible). Are we safe from all radioactivity? The answer here is no! We are as mentioned, constantly exposed to radioactivity be it in the form of cosmic rays or diagnostic X-Rays we do get it in our daily lives. Flying for instant at 35,000 feet in an airliner exposes one to a higher level of cosmic radiation then at the sea level due to some protection afforded by the Ozone layer and other particulate matter suspended in the atmosphere. So we cannot exist without some exposure, but we certainly ought to be cognizant of sources of radiation that we can knowingly avoid.

Radon and Lung Cancer
Another little known source but highly toxic to humans is the Radon (Rn86) present in the soil. Radon is an odorless gas when present in the soil can accumulate in closed, unventilated spaces like the basements and in the attics. A way to detect that is to vacuum the spaces and use a Geiger counter to determine the background radioactivity. If there is increased radioactivity determined then appropriate ventilation should be considered such as attic fans and basement windows. “Air the house periodically.” Radon has been estimated to cause about 30,000 cases of lung cancer per year.  We produce for you am excellent video on the dangers of Radon in your own home.  If you cannot see the embedded video, here is the link: http://youtu.be/THtz1SLf-Nw.

Radiation Hazards
Examples of naturally occurring radioactive hazards include the following:

Radiation source
Natural sources

indoor radon
due to seepage of 222Rn from   ground
radionuclides in body
primarily 40K and 238U progeny
terrestrial radiation
due to gamma-ray emitters in ground
cosmic rays
roughly doubles for 2000 m gain in elevation
especially 14C
total (rounded)


Medical sources

Diagnostic x-rays
excludes dental examinations
Medical treatments
radionuclides used in diagnosis (only)



consumer products
primarily drinking water, building materials
averaged over entire US population
nuclear fuel cycle
does not include potential reactor accidents

TOTAL (rounded)


In our last part of this series, we will discuss what is really going on in Japan.  Has the Japanese government told us the entire truth?  Are other countries informing their peoples of the real risk and the real amounts of radiation being leaked into the atmosphere and the Pacific Ocean?  Stay tuned.

Co-Written by PlusUltraTech and Parvez Dara, MD FACP

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