For starters, I didn't like the name. Not because I don't like the free-enterprise system, but because I do. It seemed to me that charlatans might be using a good name to disguise another of those despicable medical deceptions. This was early in my attempt at writing this book - and I didn't think any more about it for several months. By then I knew about the high radon content of many European spas and those at Bad Gastein in particular. To me, these resorts, which compete for having the highest radiation level, just showed that our fears of radon and low-level radiation were what I had already suspected: contrived and ridiculous.
What I didn't know was that the major "cures" offered by such health resorts ad the "Thermal Galleries" (a former gold mine and only one of the many spas in the Bad Gastein area) were for "rheumatic, arthritic and scoliotic disease." What was described in their advertisements was much like what I had heard about the Free Enterprise Mine, with one big difference: The spas had a two-thousand year history of arthritics coming there for relief. Still, the placebo effect and mass hypnosis didn't start with the twentieth century. I don't enjoy being fooled, and what's more, I didn't plan to be a shill for anyone bent on fooling others. Skepticism reigned.
Only very recently did I learn of the Japanese research on the hormonal reactions to inhalation of radon. (The test animals in these experiments were rabbits rather than mice.) As shown in Figure 31, there were marked increases in both beta-endorphins and m-enkephalins in the test animals. Those who know about such things claim that the former is a pain reliever, while the latter hormone creates a feeling of well-being.
I remembered that someone had sent me a book on the Free Enterprise Mine, which I had carefully filed in the "probably won't need this" box. The name of the book was Arthritis and Radioactivity, by Wade V. Lewis, the original owner of the mine. [Available from Free Enterprise Mine, P.O. Box 67, Boulder, MT 59632. Email: email@example.com.]
I learned that it didn't start out as any kind of treatment facility, but as a uranium mine in 1949. By chance, the wife of a visiting engineer went down in the mine with him and found to her amazement that her debilitating arthritic condition had improved. She convinced a friend in similar circumstances to return with her to see if this was "for real." Apparently it was, as the mine has flourished ever since.
The best thing about the book is its tone. It is not written in a "This is the way it is" and "This is what's happening" manner. It's more like "This is the way it appears" and "Perhaps this is the cause." The author, who died in 1974, was not a scientist but had learned a great deal about radiation and was trying to put the pieces together. If only he had had Luckey and Pollycove around at the time, it's no telling what the trio could have accomplished.
On August 27, 1999, there were a number of scientists on the way to a "Nuclear Technology - Bridging the Millennia" conference in Jackson, Wyoming. Among the speakers was Sadao Hattori, a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering who is vice-president and director of nuclear energy research at the Central Research Institute of the Electric Power Industry (CRIEPI) of Japan. Earlier, while compiling quotations from a large number of scientists (by which I hoped to show the depth of scientific criticism of the LNT and support for hormesis research), I ran across this 1996 quotation from the animated and dedicated "hormesian" [your author's first (and probably last) attempt at coining a word], Dr. Hattori:
"We [CRIEPI] are now carrying out experimental activities on the effects of low-dose radiation on mammals. After several years of research activities, we are recognizing Luckey's claim. Some basic surveys, including Hiroshima-Nagasaki survivors and animal experiments in Japan, have brought us exciting information on the health effects of low-dose radiation."
He went on to say that results for their research would be forthcoming. Let me tell you: Dr. Hattori delivers. In his paper delivered at the 1999 Boston conference of the American Nuclear Society, the nuclear scientist spoke on the following areas being explored by Japanese researchers:
1. Okumura's longevity of survivors exposed to low dose A-bomb radiation;
2. Sakamoto's non-Hodgkin's lymphoma successes;
3. Onishi's reports of enhancing the p53 tumor suppression gene;
4. An update on Mifune's Misasa Radon Spring study;
5. Yonezawa's research on Adaptive Response Windows;
6. Miyachi's work on stress moderation and pain relief;
7. Yamaoka's studies of hormonal and adrenaline increases.
There is one more study by Yamaoka with which an enterprising tabloid reporter could write his own ticket - if he could only understand a little science.
Yamaoka has found that radiation has a beneficial effect on cell membrane permeability, which in turn has a positive effect on the life of a particular cell. Stimulatory radiation equals high permeability, no wrinkles, no aging - and before this, relief from arthritis and related conditions. Rather interesting stories, wouldn't you say? Gee, I wonder where the reporters have gone.