With fears and tension at an all-time high in Japan as they deal with the worst natural tragedy in the country’s history, they are also dealing with a bigger and much less natural threat: nuclear radiation.
In the wake of this frightening threat, citizens have taken to buying up supplies of potassium iodine, which helps combat the effects of radiation exposure.
The interest in the supplement isn’t just restricted to Japan. There are reports of people scooping up bottles of potassium iodine on the West Coast of the U.S. and they are being sold at a rapid pace online. Troy Jones, owner of nukepills.com says he gets an order every 30 seconds and has already sold more than 50,000 doses of pills and liquid since the earthquake in Japan.
Scientists and nuclear experts are saying that stockpiling potassium iodine is not necessary, since there is no expectation of radiation reaching the U.S.
“Anyone outside of Japan right now, it would certainly not seem necessary,” said Richard Morin, a professor of Radiologic Physics at the Mayo Clinic and chairman of the American College of Radiology’s Safety Committee.
Potassium Iodine Uses
The main benefit of potassium iodine, at least in the midst of the current nuclear threat, is its ability to prevent some of the damage from radiation exposure. The thyroid gland in the neck is particularly sensitive to radiation. Exposure to high levels of radiation can cause thyroid cancer.
Where potassium iodine comes into play is that it temporarily stops the thyroid. This is important since radiation from a nuclear event would normally be taken in by your thyroid.
Potassium iodine is also used to prevent iodine deficiency, so it is added to table salt. It’s also used to protect the thyroid in certain medical procedures.
While you can get potassium iodine without a prescription it isn’t a cure-all. It only protects the thyroid, not the rest of your body from the effects of radiation exposure.
Potassium Iodine Side Effects
There are potential side effects with potassium iodine as well, including hives, joint pain, and swelling of body parts (arms, face, lips and tongue). You shouldn’t take potassium iodine unless you are instructed to do so by state or local public health officials.
March 19th, 2011