– A Cheap Way To Protect Ourselves from Radiation? (Washington’s Blog, Feb 8, 2014):
Basic Amino Acid May Help Provide Radiation Protection
We recently reported that a high-tech medicine could virtually render radiation harmless by boosting nitric oxide levels in our body. Indeed, high-level scientists were stunned to find that a treatment which boosts nitric oxide levels can virtually bullet-proof mice from high doses of radiation.
There may be a cheaper, lower-tech way to do the same thing.
L-Arginine boosts nitric oxide levels, and helps to protect us from radiation.
For example, a team of scientists from the University of Pittsburgh published a study concluding that:
L-arginine is shown to protect hematopoietic progenitor (32D cl 3) cells from death due to exposure to γ radiation ((137)Cs).
Let’s unpack this science-talk …
“Hematopoietic” means “blood cell formation”. In other words, L-Arginine helps to protect our body’s ability to make blood cells.
This sounds boring … but is actually crucial to protecting ourselves from radiation.
Destruction of the hematopoietic system is one of the two primary ways that radiation can kill us.
As Dr. David Roberts – of the Laboratory of Pathology, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health – told us:
Protection against the hematopoietic syndrome [i.e. destruction of the blood cell creation system by radiation] and the gastrointestinal syndrome … are responsible for most deaths caused by lethal total body irradiation.
This is also significant because the Pittsburgh study focused on cesium 137, the biggest danger from Fukushima. As the New York Times notes:
Over the long term, the big threat to human health is cesium-137, which has a half-life of 30 years.
At that rate of disintegration, John Emsley wrote in “Nature’s Building Blocks” (Oxford, 2001), “it takes over 200 years to reduce it to 1 percent of its former level.”
It is cesium-137 that still contaminates much of the land in Ukraine around the Chernobyl reactor.
Cesium-137 mixes easily with water and is chemically similar to potassium. It thus mimics how potassium gets metabolized in the body and can enter through many foods, including milk.
The Environmental Protection Agency says that … once dispersed in the environment … cesium-137 “is impossible to avoid.”
Moreover, a study published in the Journal of Surgical Research found that L-Arginine can help protect the intestines from radiation.
It’s vitally important because – as Dr. Roberts told us – radiation damage to the stomach and intestines is the other major cause of lethal radiation poisoning.
A study published in the journal Radiation Research also found that L-Arginine can reverse radiation-induced immune dysfunction.
A study published in the Journal of Environmental Pathology, Toxicology and Oncology concludes that L-Arginine helps to protect the lungs from radiation damage.
And a Russian study notes that L-Arginine “prevented an increase in chromosome aberration frequency in bone marrow cells of irradiated mice”.
Important notes: While nitric oxide boosters such as L-Arginine may be exciting possibilities for protecting ourselves from radiation, further studies are needed. And there are in fact many winning strategies for protecting ourselves from radiation.
Any supplement – even if very healthful – can be toxic at too high a dose. Even drinking too much water can kill.
You shouldn’t take any supplements without consulting your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider.