As the new week starts and the tragic Japanese earthquake’s dust settles and tsunami waves recede back to the oceanic depths, a study from 2008 states that drinking red wine to neutralize toxic effects from potential nuclear plant breeches may be the way to go.

After the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of Ukraine in April, 1986 people were advised to drink red wine or vodka in order to neutralize radio-active toxic effects. A study by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in 2008 concluded that Resveratrol, the natural antioxidant commonly found in red wine and many plants, might offer protection against radiation exposure, and when altered with acetyl, resveratrol administered before radiation exposure proved to protect cells from radiation in mice.

Joel Greenberger, M.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine says:

“New, small molecules with radio protective capacity will be required for treatment in case of radiation spills or even as countermeasures against radiological terrorism. Small molecules which can be easily stored, transported and administered are optimal for this, and so far acetylated resveratrol fits these requirements well. Currently there are no drugs on the market that protect against or counteract radiation exposure.”

Radiation sickness is generally associated with acute (a single large) exposure. Nausea and vomiting are usually the main symptoms. The amount of time between exposure to radiation and the onset of the initial symptoms may be an indicator of how much radiation was absorbed, as symptoms appear sooner with higher doses of exposure.

The symptoms of radiation sickness become more serious, and the chance of survival decreases, as the dosage of radiation increases. A few symptom free days may pass between the appearance of the initial symptoms and the onset of symptoms of more severe illness associated with higher doses of radiation. Nausea and vomiting generally occur within 24 to 48 hours after exposure to mild doses of radiation. Radiation damage to the intestinal tract lining will cause nausea, bloody vomiting and diarrhea. This occurs when the victim’s exposure is 200 rems or more. The radiation will begin to destroy the cells in the body that divide rapidly. These include blood, GI tract, reproductive and hair cells, and exposure also harms the DNA and RNA of surviving cells. Headache, fatigue, and weakness are also seen with mild exposure.

Moderate exposure is associated with nausea and vomiting beginning within 12 to 24 hours after exposure. In addition to the symptoms of mild exposure, fever, hair loss, infections, bloody vomit and stools, and poor wound healing are seen with moderate exposure.

Nausea and vomiting occur in less than one hour after exposure to severe doses of radiation, followed by diarrhea and high fever in addition to the symptoms of lower levels of exposure.

Very severe exposure is followed by the onset of nausea and vomiting in less than 30 minutes followed by the appearance of dizziness, disorientation, and low blood pressure in addition to the symptoms of lower levels of exposure. Severe exposure is fatal about 50% of the time.

Longer term exposure to radiation, at doses less than that which produces serious radiation sickness, can induce cancer as cell cycle genes are mutated. The probability cancer will develop is a function of radiation dose. In radiation-induced cancer the disease, the speed at which the condition advances, the prognosis, the degree of pain, and every other feature of the disease are not functions of the radiation dose to which the person is exposed.

Source: Science Daily

Written by Sy Kraft, B.A.