Dr. Jerry Cuttler has spent a substantial portion of the past 20 years delving into the topic of the health effects of low dose radiation. He recently sat down with film makers from Go Nuclear to share what he has learned during that personal and professional quest for knowledge and understanding.
Occasionally, when I write about research into the health effects of low dose radiation, people have accused me of simply trying make it easier to develop nuclear power plants. There is no doubt that is part of my goal; excessive fear of radiation driven by the assumption that there is “no safe dose” of radiation has added a great deal of difficulty, cost and schedule uncertainty to all nuclear power projects.
However, I am also motivated by anger over my growing understanding that a purposely imposed fear of radiation has prevented mankind from learning to better apply radiation as one of the most effective tools available for preventing and treating cancer, one of our most fearful enemies.
Like most of you, I’ve known far too many people who have suffered almost immeasurable pain and eventual death as a result of contracting cancer. The idea that some of that suffering might have been relieved if regulators had enabled medical professionals to perform more research and then to apply the results of that research to continuously improving tools saddens me.
Sitting here in front of my keyboard, I am thinking of close to a dozen close friends and family members. I see their faces, both when they were healthy and after they had been ravished by the suffering caused by battling the disease. I remember them trying to survive the toxic chemical and high dose radiation brute force attacks that have been the treatment their doctors understood and chose to use.
In two of the cases — my father and a good friend’s daughter — I learned details about the incredible monetary cost of the unsuccessful treatment. One accrued medical bills of over $1 million in 1987, the other left behind bills that topped $2 million in the mid 1990s.
One of my college roommates is undergoing a very tough fight. I don’t know the prognosis yet; his radiation and chemo treatments just ended a few days ago.
Though the treatment that Dr. Cuttler describes as being tested in Japan by Dr. Sakamoto might not have been effective in all cases, it seems a lot more sensible, humane and cost effective to use painless, but stimulating doses of 15 R (cGy) twice per week for five weeks to strengthen the response capability of our own immune systems to fight the disease.
Unfortunately, the regulatory assumption that there is “no safe dose” of radiation has prevented effective research and discouraged consideration of the potential utility of such a course of action.
I’m almost afraid to write this, but it is possible that the potentially low cost of the treatment is partially responsible for the lack of respect and interest given to low dose radiation treatment. After all, even in medicine, one person’s cost is another person’s revenue.
Shu-Zheng Liu Cancer Control Related to Stimulation of Immunity by Low-Dose Radiation, Dose Response. 2007; 5(1): 39–47