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August 6, 2012 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Science: What’s It Up To?

Popping Apocalypse Pills

Did you know they have invented a pill that will protect you from radioactive fall out?

There have been reports about this drug in prestigious journals like Science and the New England Journal of Medicine. The drug is very simple-potassium iodide, KI. The iodide is the important part. The potassium is only a carrier.

When the bomb drops or the reactor pops, there are many radioactive products which are released into the air. The worst bit of the fallout is the radioactive iodine. It sucks for a couple reasons. Firstly, there is a shit ton of iodine in the fall out. Secondly, the iodine is light, and so it can travel huge distances carried by the wind. Thirdly, and worst of all, the human body absorbs iodine like the Olympic Village absorbs condoms.

Iodine is used by the thyroid gland in your neck. It makes thyroid hormones which adjust your metabolic rate. Normally, the thyroid gland gets its iodine from food. It takes up as much iodine as it wants and ditches the rest to the sewerage system (poop). If there is radioactive iodine around it will be eaten and absorbed by the thyroid gland and used to make the thyroid hormones, which go everywhere in your body. Wherever these thyroid hormones go they will cause radiation damage which is not pretty.

So what do you do if there is lots of radioactive fall out hanging around the place?

The idea is to saturate your thyroid gland with huge amounts of non-radioactive potassium iodide. And you know it is non-radioactive because you got it out of a bottle which was sitting on your shelf, which you bought before the nuclear explosion or melt down happened. So now your thyroid gland doesn’t absorb any radioactive iodine because the bitch is full.

Any radioactive iodine goes straight through your body. The scientists reckon that, if there’s radioactive fall out around, potassium iodide could reduce the number of victims of thyroid cancer from fifty per cent to five per cent. I like those odds.

You only need one pill a day for two weeks to give you four weeks of protection, so a quick response is the key. It was very naughty of the Soviets not to warn the rest of Europe as soon as the first clouds of radioactive debris escaped from the Chernobyl nuclear reactor. Potassium iodide tablets and solutions were distributed widely as soon as the news leaked out. Those extra few days could mean thousands of cases of thyroid cancer in the years to come.

So all we really need now is another pill to stop the nuclear weapons from exploding and we’ll all be perfectly safe.


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