Anti-Radiation Drugs Sell Out -- Hey America, Stop Freaking Out!

Kim Conte

potassium iodideGiven the rate at which panicked Americans are buying up pills that may help combat radiation exposure, you would think the nuclear accident happened here and not in Japan.

Ever since high levels of radiation were recorded at a nuclear plant in Japan that was damaged by the earthquake and tsunami and Japan began distributing potassium iodide tablets to residents near the facility, there's been a rush on pills and antiseptic here in the United States. Potassium iodide is a compound that is believed to protect thyroid glands from radioactivity. And, because Americans, particularly those on the West Coast, are terrified that radiation is going to blow across the Pacific, they're scrambling to buy it -- all of it, apparently.

There's just one little problem ...

Most health experts believe the pills are unnecessary and, in some cases, even dangerous!

For one thing, though potassium iodide may prevent thyroid cancer -- by keeping the thyroid gland from absorbing radioactive iodine -- it does nothing to stop other side effects of a nuclear fallout.

And another? Taking iodide pills without a specific reason and without consulting a medical expert can be dangerous. The World Health Organization took to Twitter to urge Americans to be calm and caution them against drinking iodine antiseptic:

Consult your #doctor before taking #iodine pills. Do not self-medicate! ... it will not protect you & might be harmful when taken orally.

The whole irony, of course, is that the U.S. is "not expected to experience any harmful levels of radioactivity," at least according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Leave it to Americans, who are thousands of miles away from the nuclear crisis, to be obsessed with our exposure to radiation instead of focusing some of that concern on the people in Japan.

Are you scared about radiation blowing over from Japan?


Image via CoreForce/Flickr

Read More