Sunday, March 13, 2016

Take Two Cobalt 60s & Call Me in the Morning

If we really believed in the LNT, we would have to conclude that routine use of X-rays for medical purposes would cause 100,000 deaths each year. - Richard North, Alpha, 1997

Radiation and cancer are certainly strange bedfellows.

On the one hand there is a great deal of misplaced concern that the almost infinitesimally small emissions from nuclear power plants will cause widespread cancer and induce Farmer Jones's cow to give birth to two-headed calves. Yet when Farmer Jones contracts cancer (no doubt as a result of the power plant), one of the primary treatments is to destroy the cancer cells (which are unusually susceptible to radiation) with X-ray treatments or by implantation of radioactive "seeds" in the cancerous organ. And when Mrs. Farmer Jones has a hyperactive thyroid, she ingests enough iodine 131 to give her body 200 times the radiation dose - in about three weeks - that she receives over her lifetime from the natural background, to to mention the gamma radiation given to her good farmer husband from being next to him in bed. Furthermore, when little Billy Jones is found to have a fatal, inoperative brain tumor, the least invasive treatment is the "gamma knife" - a method of focusing 201 small gamma sources, which, individually, are too weak to cause any harm to anyone but the most fervent anti-nuke. Yet when they are concentrated on the offending growth together they have the power to vaporize it... and Billy goes home that afternoon completely cured. Is that a miracle or what?

However, we are not going to discuss this type of radiation therapy, since it involves the transfer of considerable amounts of energy to tissues - particularly tumors or cancers - in an attempt to destroy them or reduce their functionality. Instead, we will be concerned about the effects of comparatively tiny amounts of radiation whose purpose is to provoke the immune system into stepping up its action on the cellular level.

You may note in this chapter that virtually all of the current experimental activity mentioned is occurring in Japan, where the work of Dr. Luckey is revered - since, I suspect, it explains so much of what is happening to bomb survivors. But he Japanese have taken the matter much further, including hormetic augmentation of high-level therapies and measurement of the physiological reactions to radiation - including one that gives credence to an unusual treatment for arthritis that dates back to Roman times.