Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Case For Iodine

You might be wondering why people in Japan are taking iodine after the tsunami. Damage to the nuclear power plant has led to the release of radioactive iodine. Radioactive iodine can lead to thyroid cancer. Taking iodine pills saturates the thyroid gland and  can prevent the radioactive iodine from entering the body. Certainly no one can argue that taking iodine tablets in such a potentially dangerous situation is not a good idea. But people many miles away in places like Toronto and San Diego are buying iodine tablets as well with the thought that radiation might travel to them. As radiation travels the concentration decreases and experts say there is little chance of problems so far away. But does taking iodine cause any risks. If iodine is taken in extremely high amounts --- a dosage of many grams-- it can cause acute iodine poisoning with burning in the mouth throat and stomach diarrhea weak pulse and ultimately coma. But these are extremely high amounts. People who abuse iodine can impair the production of thyroid hormone but once again were talking about abuse. So in reasonable doses iodine does not present a significant risk but without a real chance for exposure to radioactive iodine people should save their money and not rush to the store to buy it.