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Cesium and cardiac effects

Dear Reader,

I am aware that some people from the antinuclear lobby have started to ask the question of “does radioactive cesium damage the heart ?”. I hold the view that in science a question which is testable is a good thing to have. I hold the view that a true scientist tests a hypothesis (fancy term for a theory) in an experiment using a research question.

To my mind the research question which these people who are opposed to nuclear power have raised up is “Does radioactive cesium damage the heart ?”. This is an interesting question but I must warn my readers that very little has been written on the subject. It has been shown in goats by M. Kaikkonen et. al. (Acta Physiologica Scandinavica, 2005, volume 183, pages 321-332) that cesium tends to concentrate in the kidneys (x 50 plasma concentration), urine (x 5 to 28 plasma concentration), salivary gland (x 11 plasma concentration), cardiac muscle (x 7 plasma concentration) and small intestine (x 6 plasma concentration). The fact that the cesium concentration in the urine / kidney is higher than it is in the plasma of the animal suggests that the goats will lose a lot of the free cesium in them via the urine and that it might be a better idea to look for kidney damage in humans who have been exposed to radioactive cesium.

I hold the view that anyone who wants to prove that radioactive cesium damages the heart needs to do the following.

1. Prove that Cs-137 (or Cs-134) in the diet of animals causes some harmful change to the heart, use two groups of animals one fed radioactive cesium and the other group fed no radioactive cesium.

2. Prove that the effect of the radioactive cesium is not due to a toxic effect exerted by normal stable cesium. I know that a sudden change in the plasma concentration of potassium will cause a heart attack in humans. Part of the lethal injection which the americans use to kill convicts is an injection of potassium chloride. So as potassium cations have an effect we can not rule out that cesium will have an effect.

3. Prove that the effects of internal exposure to radioactive cesium is more harmful to the hearts of the experimental animals than external exposure to the gamma rays from cesium-137. I am sure that at very high doses of external gamma rays that it is possible to damage the heart (or any other organ for that matter).

But lets think about point two for a moment, stable cesium has been used for some time in some alternative cancer treatments. Petr Melnikov and Lourdes Zélia Zanoni have written a review paper on the subject of the toxic effects of stable cesium. This paper had the title “Clinical Effects of Cesium Intake” and was published in Biological Trace Element Research (2010, volume 135, pages 1 to 9). The authors of the paper state that cesium salts do not cure cancer, they also do warn that large amounts of (nonradioactive) cesium salts do cause the heart to behave in an abnormal way. I would like to suggest that anyone considering treating themselves for radioactive cesium contamination should not try to flush the radioactive cesium out of them with stable cesium, instead I would suggest that you use prussian blue to greatly increase the rate at which cesium is lost from the gut.

A friend of mine used to work on cesium in farmyard animals, the work done years ago indicates that small doses of cesium in the diet do not work well as a means of flushing out the cesium from pigs. So if it fails to work on pigs then the use of stable cesium in humans is unlikely to work.

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